Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bottled water firm to launch refund program

A leading Canadian supplier of bottled water says it will voluntarily introduce a refundable, half-litre plastic bottle and it's hoping other large multinational rivals will follow its example.
But Canadian Springs' competitors say they help fund the municipal Blue Box recycling system, which works just fine for them.
Mississauga-based Canadian Springs says it will start collecting a 25-cent deposit on all 500 ml bottles as of Jan. 1.

The company, formerly known as Crystal Springs, said the deposit-for-refund system is the best method of reducing waste and that its customers would gladly participate.
"As far as we're concerned, all bottles should bear a deposit. We have hundreds of thousands of customers paying the deposit on the larger (water-cooler style) bottle and they're more than happy to do it," said Canadian Springs' president Richard Stephens.
The initiative has the support of the non-profit Recycling Council of Ontario.

"Here's a company that's willing to step up and take responsibility and voluntarily put together a program to support their customers in bringing back this package and staying out of a subsidized system," said the council's executive director Jo-Anne St. Godard.
He noted that in Ontario, taxpayers foot 50 per cent of the cost of the municipality's Blue Box program

The move comes amid growing pressure from consumers and municipalities to promote recycling and reduce litter.
The city of Toronto is looking at ways to cut all packaging material that ends up in landfill either by banning, taxing or requiring refundable deposits on such products.
London, Ont., recently banned the sale of bottled water in municipally owned facilities, such as arenas and community centres.

Canadian Springs is hoping other multinational bottled water companies follow its example, Stephens said, even though it doesn't compete with them in corner stores and supermarkets.
Most of Canadian Springs' sales are direct to the business or consumer.
It has a "limited" retail presence, Stephens said.
But at least one major player in bottled water sales said it sees no reason to "reinvent the wheel."

Plastic water bottles are already recycled through municipal Blue Box programs, which are heavily subsidized by industry, said John Challinor, spokesperson for Nestle Waters Canada, whose brands include Pure Life.

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