With a stomp of the foot, the Town's Economic Development Officer Bill Anderson demonstrated how easily a 15litre water bottle could be crushed-- and hopefully crushing an Ontario Environment Ministry's request to change the product. The Town of Halton Hills came to the defence of Fernbrook Natural Spring Water located in the 401 Corridor, after Minister of the Environment Laura Broten sent letters to the company demanding it stop producing its 15-litre water bottle for water coolers. Council has sent a resolution to Broten indicating its support for the continued use of the non-refillable 15-litre polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles-- since the crushable containers can be deposited into the Blue Box recycling program. Broten had sent company president Robert Elliott a letter on February 16, stating a "strong preference of the Government of Ontario that you return to a system of reusing the bottles, rather than place an additional strain on the municipal Blue Box program. In the coming months my ministry will be monitoring your progress toward this goal and advising me on the need for any additional intervention." "The arrogance is just beyond belief," said Wards 3&4 Regional Councillor Jane Fogal. "The insensitivity to a business-- it's just hard to think that you would get a letter that's about 10 lines long telling you I
don't like your product get rid of it and we're watching you in case we have to intervene-- and that's after putting $10 million into it." Elliott asked for the Town's help, fearing that future Ministry policy changes could jeopardize his new JANE business and put his FOGAL approximately 50 employees out of a job. Fernbrook Natural Spring Water was the first major new manufacturing company to open up in the 401 Corridor. The company had started manufacturing the 500 ml water bottles but began producing the 15-litre bottles due to customer demand. It cost the company $10 million for new equipment to produce the larger bottles. Fernbrook pays fees to the provinciallyrun Stewardship Ontario, which supports the Blue Box program. Halton Region accepts the bottles, which are fully recyclable in their boxes and, as Anderson demonstrated, are easily crushed. The company has never produced refillable bottles, which are not recyclable and have a lifespan of about 20 uses (assuming they are reused), according to Elliott's list of 11 reasons why his product is better. "There are 11 good reasons why the minister should certainly take note as to what this company is doing, and I certainly support them as a member of council," said Acton Councillor Jon Hurst. The larger-size recyclable bottle is in widespread use in Europe and North America, and tends to be dropped into the Blue Box more often than the mini-bottles, which are more often than not dumped into the regular garbage. He said the larger bottle uses 40-50 per cent less resin to package the same volume in little bottles. "The main purpose of recycling should be to maximize overall environmental benefits," said Elliott in a letter to Broten. "By trying to reward or punish companies solely on their product recyclables is environmentally unsound. It ignores the overall environmental benefits of packaging innovations that reduce energy and raw materials used in manufacturing and it ignores the savings that packaging innovations create from streamlining transportation and distribution." "Common sense has to prevail," said Mayor Rick Bonnette. "When you go for a stroll, you see Blue Boxes filled to overflowing with the 500 ml bottles. What's the difference between 20 or 30 of those or two of the big ones?" Council also passed a resolution to request the provincial government to develop a long-range plan to have all plastic (PET) beverage bottles become part of the deposits similar to the one recently launched for LCBO bottles. Until that time, council requested that the Ontario government allow the PET bottles to be recycled under the Blue Box program.