Thursday, November 12, 2009

When "Green" means 'Environmentally friendly, but mostly a marketing strategy'

A few months ago I discovered BottleGreen juice. The beautiful packaging and the name drew me in. Labeling anything “green” is a good marketing tool these days, (and something that EnvironmentCanada doesn’t monitor) so I was overjoyed to read that BottleGreen UK works hard to deserve their name.

BottleGreen was founded in 1989 when Kit and Shireen Morris, bottled “the taste of the English countryside”, their first product, Elderflower Cordial.

Located in Frogmarsh Mill in South Woodchester (in Gloucestershire, England), Kit and Shireen planted 10 acres of vines with dreams of producing elderflower wine. Perfecting the wine was taking time and money and so the innovative couple decided to make elderflower cordial. Also known as “squash” in England, cordial is a super-sweet, non-alcoholic fruit flavoured drink concentrate that is diluted with water (but I prefer it with prosecco!). The elderflower cordial was an instant hit among friends and Kit and Shireen decided to abandon wine and focus on cordials.

Today, BottleGreen produces cordials, sparkling pressés, sorbets and sorbet lollies, all in unique, refreshing flavours. None of the drinks contain artificial flavours, colourings, additives or sweeteners.

The various steps the BottleGreen company takes to ensure their product is environmentally friendly is commendable. Even when Kit and Shireen Morris moved their company to a larger space, they stayed true to their environmentally friendly goals by applying their beliefs on a much larger scale.

Their bottling factory uses a water recovery system. This system uses recycled water to rinse and sterilize the bottles before use. This step reduces water consumption by a sizable five million litres per year.

Anything that can be recycled is recycled. Other things are re-used. Plastic barrels are sold to local residents as garden water butts. Water butts are environmentally friendly tools for collecting rainwater, which is used for gardening. The profit from all water butt sales is donated to the local charity, Winston’s Wish.

BottleGreen sources as many local products and ingredients as possible in order to reduce food miles. When trucks do need to travel to distribute the products, they carry the maximum capacity in order to reduce the trips needed.

All of the electricity required for the production of BottleGreen beverages is sourced from an eco-friendly, 100% renewable source. Although what that source is, goes unmentioned. All factory machines have been designed to be highly efficient which has resulted in a reduction of 25% in electricity consumption.

The use of a thermostat and a time clock ensures that no energy is wasted in the factory and main office. At night and on the weekends all non-essential equipment is also turned off. These are just two small steps that have dropped BottleGreen’s energy bills by 60%.

BottleGreen UK has taken all the steps to ensure and prove that their large-scale production of products is as environmentally friendly as possible.

BottleGreen Canada, located in Mississauga has prescribed the same beliefs and efforts to ensure the company stays true to its name. Everything that can be recycled or reused is. All of BottleGreen’s beverage bottles and caps are recyclable and the glass bottles are all made with recycled glass (“for the most part”).

The production factory in Mississauga produces only Organic Fruit soda, which is bottled in recycled glass. The company produces all others beverages in plants in the UK, and then ships them to Canada for distribution (which is better than flying the bottles here). The reason for importing all other beverages is that “there is nowhere near enough elderflowers in North America”. This response frustrated me, as there are many BottleGreen beverages that contain no elderflowers at all.

At the end of the day, buying BottleGreen is ‘greener’ if you live in the UK, but if you live in Canada, it is still a step in the right direction.

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