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

City of Whitehorse tells taxi passengers who feel unsafe to not travel alone

Suggestion criticized by advocates for placing burden of safety on passengers, not taxi companies

Whitehorse’s new emergency room slated to open in early January

40,000-square-foot building will be more efficient, officials say

Judge finds Whitehorse man not guilty of raping teen in 2015 after second trial

Judge Raymond Wyant found Jackie James Kodwat not guilty of sexual assault.

Whitehorse’s sidewalks are a deathtrap

In the interest of safety and simplicity, the city should just plow the sidewalks

Police, coroner investigating suspicious death in Pelly Crossing

Investigators have ordered an autopsy, which will take place in Vancouver Dec. 18

Two Yukon projects shortlisted for the Arctic Inspiration Prize

Projects from Whitehorse, Carcross up for cash

Lower Post, B.C., man suing Yukon RCMP over assault allegation

Suit alleges man ended up with ‘ended up with bruising on his arms, biceps and chest’

Yukon needs a better plan for long-term care

The government can find solutions if it has the will. Does it have the will?

Hard travel over the Yukon’s winter trails

The overland trip to Dawson City today is a cakewalk compared to a century ago

Globalization infiltrates the Yukon’s recycling bins

You’re going to have to do a better job sorting your junk or else China won’t take it

Driving during the holidays

It’s hectic on the roads at Christmastime

Whitehorse council chambers needs new audio-visual equipment

‘More than 10 people’ watch city’s televised meetings

Most Read