Investing in a Greater Cairns

As reducing our impact on the environment is a major global concern, decreasing our carbon footprint has become the responsibility of everyone.

Most Cairns’ businesses and residents make a lot of effort to use environmentally friendly products whenever possible and recycle items as much as they can. As more and more businesses jump on board to become sustainable, one local business stands out among the crowd.

Richard Sercombe, managing director of Cairns Natural Spring Water, says the company invested $1.5 million into the Woree production facility, which has now become one of the Queensland’s most sustainable bottle-water manufacturers.

“We need to look after our beautiful rainforest and reef environments that we have here,” says Richard, who took over overseeing the business in 2004. “We started a five-year plan in 2015 to try to be as green as we can be.”

Since then, there is little that is not sustainable in his business. While the business is literally built around a clean underground aquifer that provides pure water without contaminants and is built with state-of-the-art machinery, Richard first started his sustainable plan by taking the business solar, which has since had a considerable reduction of power that is used from the grid.

He then invested in a hybrid truck to ensure their delivery methods left little footprint on the environment. His next step was purchasing a blow-moulding machine to enable his business to produce its own bottles on site rather than transporting them from Brisbane.

“Everything is all done on site, so our green footprint is very minimal,” Richard says.  “We’re not transporting water or empty bottles up from Brisbane. We do it all in house.”

While all the bottles Cairns Natural Spring Water use are 100 per cent recyclable, Richard’s purchase of a blow-moulding machine has further reduced the impact on the environment.

“Our bottles are made out of pre-forms,” he explains. “They look like little test tubes with a thread on top. This enables us to get one pallet sent on a truck from Brisbane, replacing 22 pallet spaces of fully made water bottles. To us, the blow-moulding machine was a great investment and a huge reduction in travel emissions.”

Cairns Natural Spring Water, which bottles its 15-litre bottles every day on site, supplies and delivers water and water chillers to local businesses and organisations, as well as providing local outlets with smaller water bottles.

“All our large water bottles are sterilised and reused,” Richard says. “We pick up the empty ones, replace them with full ones, and they then come back to our factory to be hygienically sterilised and refilled.”

While there is a move to use less single-use plastics, Richard says there is a misconception about their PET bottles, which are 100 per cent recyclable.

“If people take their PET bottles back to recycling, they will not be going into the landfill,” he says. “There’s no need to throw them away. All people have to do is put them in the recycling bin or, better yet, cash them in for 10 cents a bottle.

“We have investigated all the other products, including Tetra Pak’s style carton (like the old milk carton) after customer feedback about their concerns about using plastic, even though all our bottles are recyclable. What we found is that it will take $4 million to set up the manufacturing equipment required for the Tetra Pak style carton, which isn’t just financially viable. But, not only that and more importantly, the carbon footprint these cartons leave make it less environmentally sensitive than our recyclable bottes.

“Our next stage is to invest in the machine makes the pre-forms, so we reduce our footprint even further.”

As well as being environmentally friendly, the bottled water supplied by the business is full of health benefits. It contains high levels of magnesium and calcium as well as silica, which is known for its anti-aging benefits. As part of its quality control program, its water is frequently tested for any containments and also analysed for its chemical composition by a certified independent laboratory.

“Everybody has to do their bit to help the environment,” Richard adds. “Especially in Cairns where the city rides on the back of tourism. We need to look after this beautiful place.”

Story produced by connectfnq.

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