Drink up! Kirkland Signature bottled water
Sherrie Newman fills April’s
consumer reporter slot with
a behind-the-scenes look at
a popular Kirkland Signature™
product. Send your questions
about this article to:
By Sherrie Newman
friendly “short height” caps (not as tall as previous
caps) reduce the amount of plastic in each cap by up
to 70 percent, and Costco bottled-water caps are
now the lightest in the world.
Newly formed PET is called virgin PET; recy-
cled PET, or rPET, can be endlessly recycled for use
in bottles and other products. One new goal Costco
shares with their water suppliers is to use rPET as
much as possible in order to consume less new plas-
tic. Eric Beringause, CEO of Advanced Refreshment,
a Costco water supplier, tells me, “The goal is to use
a ‘closed-loop system,’ where bottles are recycled
and made back into bottles.”
Costco has been making great strides in using
rPET and just introduced bottles that are up to 20
percent rPET in limited markets this year. However,
I was surprised to learn that the biggest barrier to
using more rPET is not a lack of technology, but the
lack of a sufficient supply, as there is too little PET
recycling in the United States.
“If more plastics were recycled, there would be a
larger supply to fill the demand of rPET, and bottles
could be made with more recycled material,” says
Teresa. “We need more cities, communities and individuals to step up their efforts.” (See “Recycling tips.”)
Plastics are used in almost every aspect of our
lives, from beverage containers to diapers, trash
bags, shampoo bottles and even furniture and medical devices. The plastic in the Kirkland Signature
water bottles is a thermoplastic resin called polyethylene terephthalate, or PET.
Costco has challenged its bottled-water suppliers
to develop methods that produce bottles with less
plastic. Using new technology in design and production, over the past two years Costco suppliers have
reduced the amount of plastic used in the bottles by
up to 40 percent, preventing an estimated 20 million
pounds of plastic from going into landfills each year.
Suppliers have also been working on reducing
the amount of plastic in the bottle caps. User-
Cardboard is responsible for an estimated 30
percent of landfill. After discovering that, Costco
developed another conservation goal: eliminating
the cardboard trays that held the bottles and using
only shrink-wrap as packaging.
Andy Peykoff II, president and CEO of Niagara
Bottling, the U.S.’s biggest family-owned, private-label
bottled-water supplier, says, “This is one of the most
important strides we’ve taken to reduce impact to the
environment—eliminating cardboard. We developed
a new system of packing bottles that allows us to
group them together more densely, which we call
‘nesting,’ that eliminates [corrugated cardboard],
increases the amount of cases we can put on a pallet
and reduces the number of pallets used.
“Estimates for 2013 are that we will save more
than 120,000 trees from being used,” Peykoff adds.
NEW PACKAGING (at left, with the same
high-quality water) arrives soon at Costco.
The Kirkland Signature water bottles are 100%
recyclable. Just remove the cap and place both
cap and bottle in a recycle bin. The case wrap
is also recyclable. Check the recycle legend on
the bottom of the package for acceptability
with your local recycler's program.