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The end of refillable water containers?


Today I posted a news item about Peel Region, which is concerned about large water containers showing up in curbside recycling systems. These containers are a “recyclable” replacement to the rigid ones that sit ontop of water coolers that have traditionally been refilled by water service companies and retail take-back systems.
For convenience I’ve repasted our news item below.
The comment I want to share is this: Is it a coincidence that the dismantling of this refillable container system for water is occurring at the same time as soft-drink companies are expanding into the water business? It’s a fact that for soft-drink companies, water is the fastest-growing category. A few years ago the companies realized that they had captured as much of consumers’ “stomach share” (as they call it) as possible with syrup-based soft-drinks. Allowing for the fact that juice, milk and alcohol-based drinks will occupy some future share, taking over water was the obvious next strategic objective.
So now the soft-drink companies have expanded into bottled water. Does it come as a surprise that the refillable system for water in the large water cooler bottles is now being externalized onto taxpayers? I think not.


Peel calls for deposits on water bottles
Peel Region, Ontario is calling for producers to either pay the full cost, or collect via deposit-refund system, a new generation of large water bottles that are beginning to appear on the market.
It used to be that the large polycarbonate bottles that sit on top of water coolers have been re-useable, but a new type of “recyclable” bottle is entering the market. As its use increases, the single-use bottles will become a burden for municipalities and increase costs for local governments and taxpayers. Water service companies and retailers could end up externalizing their costs onto the public, and dismantle the refilling system.
Peel waste management director Andy Pollock says the region has been forced to add a $250,000-per-year sorting line at its new recycling facility to remove the containers that otherwise would contaminate the cardboard portion of the recyclable material stream.
The large bottles cost a lot to collect because they’re voluminous, filling almost half a blue box and causing collection trucks to fill more quickly. Failing to collect them for recycling wouldn’t solve anything as then they’d have to be shipped in garbage trucks to Michigan landfills.
“We are in the process of working with the various stakeholders,” says Elizabeth Griswold, executive director of the Canadian Bottled Water Association. “We’re just trying to work out all of the little details.”


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