Case Study: Ice River Springs Keeps Its Circular Business Flowing

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A Zero Waste World and sustainability success story

A sustainably-focused private-label bottled water producer collaborates with CHEP’s Zero Waste World program to co-create circular solutions. Across 9 years, Ice River Springs has achieved significant environmental savings including avoiding 1.5 million pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere and eliminating 2 million pounds of solid waste from landfills.


The Opportunity
Help a leading bottled water producer efficiently extend its circular business model and stay true to its sustainability philosophy.

The Solution
Collaborate with CHEP on a Zero Waste World partnership that incorporates pooled (shared and reusable) pallets and strategic logistics.


Ice River Springs, a private-label bottled water producer with operations in Canada and the U.S., stands out from the competition in many ways, including its focus on sustainability. The refreshing water from Ice River Springs comes in the company’s unmistakable green bottles: The bottles are made of 100% recycled material and are 100% recyclable; even the caps are recyclable.

The company’s sustainability philosophy is based on the three Ps – people, planet and profit – and Ice River Springs has proven that the approach is good for business and the environment. Between 2010 and 2020, as the company has grown, the switch to 100% recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles has reduced energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 78 percent.

“Sustainability is an essential part of our business plan,” says Crystal Howe, Sustainability Manager, Ice River Springs. “We’ve discovered that if companies are built in a way that ingrains sustainability into what and who they are, then the system continues to work, even when there are unexpected disruptions.”

Working with CHEP and Zero Waste World is a natural partnership for us. Ice River Springs is built around a sustainable framework, and we’ve proven it leads to stability.

Crystal Howe Sustainability Manager, Ice River Springs


Howe says the company has also discovered it pays to walk the path toward sustainability with like-minded companies. Working with CHEP, with its pooled (shared and reusable) pallets, was a strategic choice. With more than 530 service centers across Canada and the U.S., CHEP provides the network Ice River Springs needs to quickly access sturdy 48x40-inch block pallets. Since Ice River Springs produces recycled bottles in a closed-loop production process at its Blue Mountain Plastics plant, CHEP pallets are used to move goods around the company’s production and distribution facilities, in addition to delivering the finished product to stores.

Although sourcing locally has paid dividends for Ice River Springs over the last decade, it’s been especially critical to successful operations through the COVID-19 crisis. Ice River Springs was able to continue sourcing recycled materials and producing bottles without facing potential breaks in its supply chain – a possibility if suppliers outside of Ontario, or even Canada – were unable to provide PET.

This circular, sustainable approach to business led Ice River Springs to CHEP’s Zero Waste World program, a global, collaborative campaign to eliminate waste, eradicate empty transport miles and cut out inefficiencies.

As part of Zero Waste World, both CHEP and Ice River Springs significantly extend the life of their assets, either by reusing or recycling. Ice River Springs sends the high-density polyethylene (HDPE) it recovers through the recycling process to C.R. Plastic Products – another part of the company – to produce items such as high-quality outdoor furniture. CHEP pallets are also repurposed at the end of their useful life: The waste wood goes into particle board, mulch, animal bedding, fuels for power generation, and more.

“Through our Zero Waste World program, CHEP is able to bring our extensive circular business and supply chain experience to the table with Ice River Springs,” says Jonathan North, Senior Manager and Program Lead – Zero Waste World, CHEP. “The program allows us to focus our collaborative efforts towards the three main problem areas, enabling us to work together to co-create solutions that will contribute to even more sustainable supply chains, even better equipped for the future.”

In a 9-year period, Ice River Springs achieved significant environmental savings by using more than 3.6 million CHEP 48x40-inch block pallets.

  • Avoided more than 1,550,000 pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, the equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from 70 trips around the world by an average passenger vehicle.
  • Eliminated more than 2,000,000 pounds of solid waste from landfill.
  • Demonstrated verifiable results, beginning with CHEP’s use of 100% certified timber (PEFC and FSC certifications) all the way to the eradication of empty miles.

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Case Study: Ice River Springs Keeps Its Circular Business Flowing | CHEP