Banishing bottles and bringing on bags

Heavy plastic bottles are making an exit at Yukon Spring to be replaced by lighter, more environmentally friendly bags. The long-time Yukon company has been providing bulky 18.

Heavy plastic bottles are making an exit at Yukon Spring to be replaced by lighter, more environmentally friendly bags.

The long-time Yukon company has been providing bulky 18.9-litre bottles for the tops of water coolers since its inception in 1988.

But that has changed. Yukon Spring is now the first water company in North America to swap out the familiar bottles for biodegradable sacks.

The decision, according to company president Paul Sheridan, was an easy one to make.

“We’re doing it because it’s greener,” he said matter-of-factly when asked to explain his motivations.

Using bags rather than plastic bottles will reduce the company’s carbon footprint by about 50 per cent, Sheridan estimates.

He called the decision part of a growing trend that has seen all types of companies moving towards more environmentally sound business models.

“There really has been a global shift towards green technology by businesses all over the world.”

The large plastic sacks, which carry nearly 11.5 litres of water, are made in part from cornstarch and are 100 per cent biodegradable.

They are also more efficient to ship.

“Frankly, when you are shipping water bottles you are shipping mostly air,” Sheridan said.

With the new product, one roll of the material Yukon Spring uses to make the single-use bags is the equivalent of about half a truckload of the bottles, he said.

Cardia Bioplastics, an Australia-based company with offices around the world, created the specially designed resin.

The company’s executive director for North America, James Beck, said the ability to use biodegradable bags over bottles is a benefit particularly for northern companies and communities far from Whitehorse.

“I think about the mining industry,” he said. “This way they don’t have to worry about shipping their empty bottles back, that is a saving.”

The bagged water-cooler system is already being used in Europe and Australia.

Since striking the deal with Yukon Spring, Beck said he’s heard from other North American companies wanting to give the product a try.

The resin is made mostly from corn and polymers mixed with specialized ingredients to help the product break down more quickly.

If kept out of the sun, a bag can last for two to three years.

When the outdoor temperature is right, it takes about three to four months to break down and another month to biodegrade completely, Beck said.

In the Yukon the process would slow in the winter when the cold temperatures cause the microorganisms to become dormant.

Sheridan believes there are benefits to the new method beyond the environmental ones.

Instead of lifting the standard 45-pound plastic bottles, costumers will now only have to handle about 25 pounds.

“It’s lighter, it’s definitely easier to handle,” he said.

The company hopes to have completely phased out the hard plastic bottles sometime around November.

So far, Sheridan said, customers have been receptive to the idea.

“They like the idea that this is green,” he said.

The company will be offering adaptors free to anyone who rents a water system from them.

The extra piece sits on top of a standard water cooler and allows the same base to be used with the new water bags.

Yukon Spring will also be selling the adaptors for $33 to anyone who owns their own cooler.

As for what to do with the obsolete plastic bottles, after more than 25 years in the industry, Sheridan knows there are no shortages of alternative uses.

His bottles have been repurposed for everything from the percussion section in a school band to backyard terrariums.

“Finding other uses for them won’t be hard,” he said.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speak at a COVID-19 update press conference in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. On Nov. 24, Silver and Hanley announced masks will be mandatory in public places as of Dec. 1, and encouraged Yukoners to begin wearing masks immediately. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Masks mandatory in public places starting on Dec. 1

“The safe six has just got a plus one,” Silver said.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read