Ice River Springs closed loop, bottle-to-bottle recycling plant opens in Ontario.
Closed-loop, bottle-to-bottle recycling is operating in a Canadian town called Shelburne, some 60 miles north of Toronto.
That’s where Ice River Springs, a bottled water company headquartered in Feversham, Ontario, has converted an industrial building into a PET recycling plant. This makes Ice River Springs the first bottled water company in North America to self-manufacture its own resin. The equipment, supplied by a number of manufacturers including Amut and Starlinger, produces clean flake and then purifies the material to food-grade resin approved by Health Canada and the FDA.
“Our company vision is to be the leading environmentally responsible beverage company in North America.” says Ice River Springs CEO, Jamie Gott. “Our goal is to eliminate our dependency upon foreign virgin PET resin by self-manufacturing recycled resin from baled post-consumer plastic purchased from Municipal Recycling Centres, thereby significantly reducing our carbon footprint. Our trucks deliver our great tasting water in 100% recycled PET to the store, but then return to our plant with plastic to be recycled, closing the loop.”
Ice River Springs is a North American leader in light-weighting, currently producing a 500ml bottle with the lowest amount of plastic in the industry. Since November, food-grade, RPET (recycled PET) resin produced in the Shelburne plant is used to manufacture this same light-weight bottle, with 100% RPET content. The total weight of the 500ml bottle, including the company’s proprietary cap, is under 10 grams.
In addition to bottling its own water under its own brand, Ice River Springs is the largest private label bottled water company in Canada. Family owned and operated, the company has focused on reducing its carbon footprint since its beginning in 1995. The company expanded into the US in 2006 and now operates seven bottling plants; four in the US and three in Canada. Building a regional network of plants has enabled the company to reduce freight costs and compete with large multi-national beverage companies. Vertical integration, including self-manufacture of preforms, caps and now RPET resin, further reduces costs.
What’s exciting about the new facility in Shelburne, operating as Blue Mountain Plastics, is the number of environmental benefits that ripple outward from it. For example, the bottle-to-bottle recycling process uses six-fold less energy than producing virgin PET from fossil fuels. In addition, since most virgin PET comes from Asia, the Shelburne plant will reduce consumption of fuel for transportation. Moreover, Ontario recyclers will have stable demand for baled post-consumer plastic as the facility can handle over 80% of the blue box material collected in Ontario annually. This in turn will stabilize prices, make recycling centres more financially feasible, and help to promote recycling, keeping plastic bottles out of landfills.
“Our plan is to reuse Ontario blue box material over and over again in Ontario,” says Sandy Gott, co-owner. “The response from retailers has been very positive and we’ve heard from consumers that they will be more diligent about recycling now that they know we have created a closed loop system.”