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Canadian Family Business Closes the Loop on Sustainability

The Recycling Challenge

Ice River Springs is a family business with a passion for sustainability and the vision of becoming North America’s leading environmental beverage company. Since opening its doors in 1995, this Ontario-based company has been determined to shrink its carbon footprint by reducing reliance on the resources needed to manufacture, package and transport the private label water it supplies to companies like Walmart and Loblaws.

The Recycling Solution

Post-Consumer Plastic Waste

To produce the resin it uses for recycled bottles, Ice River Springs’ Recycling Division, Blue Mountain Plastics, buys Polyethylene Terephthalate PET from the municipalities who collect it from over 95 per cent of Ontario’s households. After successfully creating a closed-loop recycling process that makes new water bottles from discarded plastic bottles and plastic grocery shells, the company’s appetite for recycled PET was growing fast.

Closed-Loop Recycling

To feed that growing hunger, representatives from Stewardship Ontario worked with Canada’s top five food retailers, the Recycling Council of Ontario (RCO), municipalities and other recycling experts, to increase the supply of PET plastic containers in the Blue Box. The resulting uncontaminated plastic bales are now quenching the eco-efficient water bottler’s thirst for more recycled PET. So, Blue Mountain Plastics harvests the very packaging that Ice River Springs manufactures, putting it back into the marketplace over and over again—and helping build Canada’s green economy. Ice River co-owner, Sandy Gott tells us: “The vision and support of Stewardship Ontario was instrumental in making self-manufactured bottle-to-bottle recycling happen.”


In 2011, Ice River Springs won Greener Packaging’s awards for Environmental Impact and Innovator of the Year. As well as packaging initiatives, the company saves energy and reduces emissions by picking up bales of recovered plastic from municipalities using empty trucks that have just delivered bottled water to customers. To further offset its carbon footprint, it has also reduced electricity consumption at its largest bottling plant with solar panels and geothermal chilling. Says Stewardship Ontario’s EVP, Lyle Clarke: “With the leadership of companies like Ice River Springs, we’re building a world-class recycling infrastructure right here in Canada.”


Stewardship Ontario’s Blue Box—A not-for-profit organization funded and governed by the industries that make and market the products and packaging materials recycled through the programs it manages—the Blue Box and Orange Drop.

Recycling Council of Ontario—Is a not-for-profit, membership-based organization involved in the issues of consumption, waste generation, reduction, diversion and recycling.

Canada’s Top Five Food Retailers

Loblaw Companies Limited —1,000+ supermarkets, and revenues of $30 billion.

Sobeys —1,300+ supermarkets and sales of over $14 billion.

Metro — Revenues in excess of $11 billion.

Walmart Canada —173 discount stores and 199 supercentres.

Safeway Canada —224 stores in western Canada.

Ontario Municipalities—Stewardship Ontario and the Continuous Improvement Fund (CIF) have worked closely with municipalities to expand the materials that can be collected in the Blue Box and processed effectively. The Plastic Is In campaign pilot in the City and County of Peterborough and the City of Kawartha Lakes, and subsequent roll-outs in Northumberland County, City of Kingston, City of Cornwall, City of North Bay, Region of York, Region of Niagara, let householders know that they can recycle all types of rigid plastic in their Blue Boxes.

Ice River Springs —The first beverage company in North America to produce a 100 per cent recycled bottle from self-manufactured resin in a closed-loop recycling process. The company also produces the lightest weight bottle in Canada (8.67 grams, launched in 2011).