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Edmonton social enterprise Earth Group unveils new aluminum bottled water product

WATCH ABOVE: The world is shifting away from single-use plastics and as Margeaux Maron tells us, an Alberta-based bottled water company is riding that wave with a big product change.

Edmonton social enterprise Earth Group has been selling plastic bottled water, fair trade coffee and locally sourced tea to fund a partnership with the UN World Food Programme for 14 years.

“We’ve funded over 3.6 million school meals for children,” co-founder Matt Moreau said. “We’re getting set to make another donation in the coming months here and that will push us over the 4 million mark.”

Earth Water bottled water is sold world wide, but had humble beginnings on the shelves of Edmonton cafes and supermarkets.

“We’ve had our ups and downs for sure,” co-founder Kori Chillibeck said.

“The last five years have been awesome getting contracts with IKEA [and] all of the Hilton Hotels in Japan.”

Global partnerships like that are huge for Earth Group, but they faced a significant problem. Big brands, including IKEA and Hilton had committed to ditching single-use plastics over the next two years.

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“So this really got us engaged in trying to find a great solution,” Chillibeck said.

Before any other major companies like Coca-Cola, a new plastic-free Earth Water bottle hit shelves in Edmonton this week.

Earth Group co-founders Matt Moreau and Kori Chillibeck pose with their first batch of aluminum Earth Water products.
Earth Group co-founders Matt Moreau and Kori Chillibeck pose with their first batch of aluminum Earth Water products. Margeaux Maron / Global News

“It’s 100 per cent aluminum, 100 per cent recyclable, it takes 95 per cent less energy to recycle than a plastic bottle,” Moreau said.

It wasn’t easy sourcing an aluminum bottle without a plastic interior lining, or exterior branding wrap.

“It’s infinity recyclable, so it doesn’t get downgraded whatsoever,” Moreau continued. “And most importantly, it’s not plastic.”

Dev Jennings is with the Canadian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility and says one of the fastest ways big brands like IKEA can affect big environmental change is to insist upon changes to their supply chain.

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In the case of Earth Water, it was a change-the-product or lose-the-contract situation.

“It’s really important for the big players to come in and say this is important,” Jennings said.

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At $3 each, consumers are paying more than average but the creators say it’s for a good cause.

And while shouldering a higher cost is risky for a lean-running social enterprise, Jennings says it’s about more than just the economic payoff.

“You’re making both a long-term and short-term profit because you’re thinking about people, planet and profits.”

Watch below: Earth Group co-founders Matt Moreau and Kori Chillibeck joined Global News at Noon Edmonton to discuss their bottle

Edmonton company works for solutions to move away from single-use plastics
Edmonton company works for solutions to move away from single-use plastics

Moreau says it’s rewarding to play their part in solving the global plastics crisis while benefiting children in need.

“We’ve kind of woken up with a purpose every day for the last decade and a half and to us that’s success,” Moreau said.

Aluminum Earth Water bottles are currently being carried at Remedy Cafe locations in Edmonton. The founders say they hope to be on shelves around the world in the new year.

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