Gaining popularity for its variety of flavor-infused spring water, Flow caught my eyes immediately with its chic packaging and zero-calorie appeal. The most interesting flavor for me was cucumber as it brings out the freshness in water especially in a hot summer day. Getting addicted to it and eventually drifting away from tap water for Flow, I started to examine the brand as a responsible consumer. Overall, Flow sources its water originally from family-owned artesian springs in Canada and then expanded to acquire more springs in Virginia, US. It upholds water quality through multiple steps in filtration and transportation and eventually, distributes through ethically and eco-friendly designed packaging with renewable materials. The company strives to protect water resource and contributes in related environmental endeavors.
According to Flow’s founder Nicholas Reichenbach, Flow comes from his family-owned artesian spring in South Bruce County, Ontario, and he is proud to share this natural alkaline water with a pH ±8.1 and plentiful minerals in eco-friendly packaging with the rest of the world. Fused with flavors derived from essentials oils and extracts of natural fruits and vegetables, Flow water is sugar and calorie free, which makes it a great alternative for people who are into a healthy lifestyle. Even during the brand’s expansion, Flow has not forgotten its commitment to the environment by sourcing its water from Seawright Springs in Virginia for the U.S. market with the same water quality and a transportation system that would cause least carbon emission. Furthermore, once extracted from the springs, water is filtered through multiple steps followed by a UV lights treatment before and after transportation to uphold a rigid safety protocol. While packing, Flow takes pride in its sustainable package design by using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paperboard and plant-based cap made from renewable sugarcane. The trees sourced do not come from forests with high-conservation value and unethical forestry practices. In addition, they are further replaced through planting or natural regeneration techniques. With these combined efforts, Flow is able to deliver its “eco-friendly” promise to customers from sourcing, transportation, to packaging and eventually recycling.
Through its production chain, Flow has already achieved zero net operational carbon emission by sourcing high quality carbon offsets to support projects in renewable energy and water management, and it will continue to reduce its carbon footprint by focusing on its facility operation and distribution channels. In protecting its water source, Flow takes precautions in the amount of water it extracts and hires experts to constantly monitor the flow and quality of the natural water system, ensuring local springs to be uninterrupted and restoring aqua-diversity. Flow claims it only takes 2% of total water capacity from springs annually to achieve a minimum sustainable usage. From the springs to its packaging facility in Aurora, Toronto, Canada, the water makes its way into paperboard bottles through Tetra Pak’s sterilization, filling, and sealing. The factory is powered by green electricity provider Bullfrog Power that aims to reduce carbon footprint and enhance sustainability. Explaining the rationale behind the site of the factory, Nicholas Reichenbach voiced concern over the disruption of natural water system upon the construction of the facility near the springs and the cost of transportation if the site has been elsewhere. On the one hand, Flow takes pride in its partnership with Tetra Pak who reduces energy usage and provides high reusability and remake opportunities of its packing; on the other hand, more studies have found otherwise. Cartons made by Tetra Pak need to be processed with specialized equipments which many cities lack. Therefore, most cartons, however sustainable they may seem, could not be recycled properly and are dumped into landfill, which result in a significantly lower recycling rate comparing to that of 100% recycled plastic bottles by at least 67%. No matter how “green” the materials of the packaging may be, the most crucial part is actually how efficient it is for recycling facilities to process them correctly; otherwise, it would only achieve the opposite. In fact, the most sustainable approach is for people to reduce the amount of water purchased and drink tap water instead. More companies are creating water bottles beyond a single-usage and integrating water fountains and other delivery systems into their business models.
Since its founding, Flow has been dedicated in delivering tasty and quality water with clean packaging to the world. Other than its core business practices, Flow is committed in giving back to the environment for what it takes by taking on initiatives such as river cleanup, watershed restoration, hurricane relief, water accessibility and etc.. Moreover, Flow believes in values created by its employees and advocates for diversity training and a mentorship program that offers more opportunities to trainees. While Flow has delivered exceptional results in its carbon offsets and other environmental metrics, it sets up higher goals for 2025 such as being carbon negative and package recycling. As a result, Flow scored one of the highest in its category in B-Crop certification, and its founder won prestigious award for sustainability achievements. In the future, Flow is expected to further expand to more locations; however, it is perplexing trying to understand how they aim to maintain the low water source usage for its rapidly growing customer base.