Utah-based Park City IceWater Company (formerly Wasatch IceWater Company) was recently mentioned by Plenty magazine for its "eco-friendly" packaging known as the "GlacierPak." The proprietary packaging the company uses is a flexible pouch made by Ampac Packaging. Park City claims its packaging is the answer to the "environmental issues of PET water bottles."
Ampac and Park City refer to the packaging as "recyclable" and environmentally friendly saying both its reduction of waste and of resources used in production are its primary benefits. Citing statistics that show 77% of PET water bottles in the US (22 billion) end up in landfills annually the company says its packaging is better and because of its shape if landfilled it would occupy 96% less space compared to the traditional PET bottle.
However, like other complex packaging solutions such as Tetra Pak it is unclear exactly how easily recyclable the GlacierPak packaging truly is here in the US where most municipal recycling facilities accept only blow molded PET and HDPE plastics. In an ideal world or perhaps through the manufacturer the packaging may be recyclable however reality is far different. Most communities still aren't accepting injection molded PET or HDPE or #5 PP for that matter. Trying to recycle a GlacierPak made from PET, nylon and other materials with a polyethylene and silicone spout/closure is going to be next to impossible.
In a recent press release Park City said, "Park City IceWater is packed in flexible GlacierPak pouches rather than plastic bottles. This environmentally friendly package consumes 96% less waste and requires 75% less energy to produce. This revolutionary and innovative product is the 'Green' solution to the bottled water industry."
The main environmentally friendly aspect of the GlacierPak appears to be the fact it takes up significantly less space in a landfill compared to a similar 16oz PET bottle. Given the statistics on how many PET bottles end up in landfills annually and are not recycled - the GlacierPak packaging could make a difference in reducing landfill waste volume if the brand became a national player in the bottled water market.
However the message the company sends with its "environmentally friendly" packaging is that its ok to throw out its packaging because its less bad than throwing out a PET bottle. I'm not entirely sure this is that much of a positive and frankly its sending the wrong message.
There is no question the packaging is innovative and the design aspects in terms of functionality and ease of use for the consumer are strong. From a packaging and design perspective separate from green considerations its quite interesting. The product and packaging can stand on their own as solid and of high quality - I'm just not so sure I'd market them as environmentally friendly if I was Park City IceWater because in the end thats a tough sell.
In order to promote their water the company has created a web site Earthfriendlyicewater.com.