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

Just Posted

Canadian justice system can benefit from Indigenous practices, MMIWG chief commissioner says

The Canadian justice system would benefit from learning about and adopting Indigenous… Continue reading

Yukon government discontinues lawsuit over Dawson wastewater treatment plant

A government lawyer filed a notice of discontinuance to Yukon Supreme Court Feb. 19.

Turn that frown upside down: New radar monitors drivers’ speed

The sign, complete with emojis to tell you how you’re doing, will move between 10 locations in Whitehorse

Three Yukon government midwives to start working next year

The government plans to look across the country to fill the positions


Wyatt’s World

Today’s mailbox: Cancer costs, Rendezvous, mining ranking

Letters to the editor published Feb. 28

Dwayne De Rosario inspires Yukon futsal teams ahead of Arctic Winter Games

The soccer great was in Whitehorse for two days of futsal sessions with local players

City news, briefly

Some news from Whitehorse council on Feb. 24

History Hunter: Yukoners honoured for their contributions to Yukon history

The Yukon Historical and Museums Association handed out the 36th Annual Yukon Heritage Awards

Yukonomist: Whitehorse through the eyes of an app

You probably don’t use an app to decide where to dine out… Continue reading

Today’s mailbox: free transit

Letters to the editor published Feb. 26

Local skiers compete in 2020 Yukon Cross Country Ski Championships

The event included dozens of racers competing in mass-start skate races

Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in to hold general election in April

On top of voting for chief, three councillors, citizens will vote for a deputy chief for first time

Most Read