*Article published in the May / June 2021 issue of Grocery Business Magazine.
9000 years ago, an Abitibi glacier became an underground river called an esker. This source was discovered nearly 4,000 years ago and is protected by the Saint-Mathieu-Lac-Berry esker in Quebec. This unique Quebec source and its inherent nature form the literal bedrock of ESKA Water — its ethos and its operations.
Michel McArthur is the chief operating officer for ESKA. In speaking with McArthur, it is abundantly clear that he possesses tremendous passion and knowledge — he has been in the water business for 25 years. He has visited springs all over the world but “has never seen anything like what we have at ESKA. The combination of quality and quantity of water is second to none,” says McArthur.
The esker as a source is essentially perfect.
“The esker is a geological formation that was created by glaciers melting thousands of years ago. As a glacier is solid, it rubbed and moved against rock, creating soil, sand, gravel and rocks that the water just flows right through,” explains McArthur.
What does this mean? ESKA water is of inimitable quality and measurably sustainable.
Natural layers of sediment act as filters, while the “underground river” is constantly replenished by rain and snow hitting the ground. It can take nearly 15 years to get to the aquifer below. The pressure is constant and over time it can force cracks in the ground from which the spring streams.
ESKA’s facility is positioned next to one of the largest springs where water is captured deep under ground at the base of the Esker before it reaches the surface. Why is this important? ESKA water never comes into contact with the surface before being bottled.
“ESKA’s water stays exactly the same — it goes from spring to bottle within five minutes. There’s no buffer tanks, no storage, no nothing,” says McArthur.
McArthur describes the company’s adherence to sustainability and quality with unabashed pride.
Last year, Eska was the first leading Canadian brand to use 100% recycled plastic for all of its natural spring water bottles. And that was just the start. For McArthur, innovating means problem-solving. He persevered in developing a groundbreaking solution for ESKA’s carbonated flavoured water offerings: “We were able to find the right recipe for us to make a clear recycled plastic bottle from a hundred-percent post-consumer material in a carbonated water bottle.”
This Summer, ESKA will relaunch ESKA Sparkling using 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles. By doing so, ESKA will again be the first leading brand to make carbonated water bottles with recycled plastic.
The recycled plastic in ESKA’s spring and sparkling water bottles are sourced from Quebec’s Blue Box and other recycling systems. The rPET bottles are themselves recyclable, which is part of the brand’s commitment to environmental sustainability and contributes to the circular economy. These recycled PET bottles in turn become new bottles, which means continuous reuse — an idea that ESKA calls the “Recycle of Life.”
“ ’Recycle of Life’ means to bring to life what the brand’s values are,” says McArthur. “It is important to us to support the circular economy. ESKA bottles captured in the recycling stream are re-made into new bottles, eliminating the unnecessary use of natural resources.”
Sold primarily throughout Quebec and Ontario, ESKA has made unprecedented in-roads with recycled plastics. The new bottles are virtually identical to the original bottles and are food-grade — clean and safe.
The bottom line: ESKA Water is only using existing recycled plastic for the production of new bottles.
With a uniquely, pure taste profile — in combination with preserving natural resources — ESKA sees its role in supporting the health and environment of the community as a priority, while producing an “affordable premium” product and a quintessentially Canadian brand.
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