Flow Water joins the B Corp-certified movement

The brand's CEO argues the stamp of approval is important, even if most consumers don't yet recognize it.
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Since its founding in 2014, packaged water brand Flow Water has built its reputation around sustainability and “mindful hydration.” Now, having earned the stamp of approval from a third party non-profit, it can further position itself as a leading CSR company.

The company – which recently hired its first VP of marketing – was labelled B Corp certified earlier this month by the B Lab, a non-profit organization that “serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good,” according to B Lab’s website. In essence, B Corps use business solutions to solve social and environmental problems.

Only 2,297 corporations worldwide have received B Corp certification to date, with Flow Water being the first Canadian water company to do so.

Nicholas Reichenbach, Flow’s founder and CEO, says the brand will be incorporating the certification logo on the next iteration of its packaging; it has already done so on its website. Still, he says the goal of applying to be B Corp certified has more to do with “doing the right thing” than wooing socially conscious, environmentally minded consumers. The reason is that the B Lab and its label are not yet widely recognizable. That said, Flow is taking the opportunity to educate consumers on its meaning and significance.

This year was the first time Flow applied for the certification, following a push from an investor with ties to the environmental industry. Moreover, Reichenbach says the company wanted to wait until the opening of its brand-owned manufacturing facility in Aurora, Ontario, earlier this year. The packaging plant is powered by Bullfrog Power, which relies on 100% clean electricity.

To receive the B Corp designation, a company must meet verifiable standards in social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. The B Lab evaluates everything from a business’ corporate structure, to its practices and impact on employees, customers and the community. Reichenbach says it can be difficult for water companies to become certified, seeing as water extraction presents a number of environmental challenges.

However, Flow’s water is extracted from a natural spring in Bruce County, Ontario, and filtered naturally, which minimizes water treatment. Its Tetra Pak packaging is made of materials (mainly paperboard) that are 100% recyclable and up to 70 percent renewable. Flow’s DreamCap is made of plastic derived from sugar cane, an innovation that has helped it reduce its carbon footprint.

While Flow’s core target market is women aged 18 to over 55 who care about health and wellness, Reichenbach says the company’s social and environmental initiatives have attracted millennials who tend to value CSR.

B Corp-certified companies must earn a score of between 80 and 200 on the B Impact Report; overall, Flow earned a 92 and scored particularly high on the “community” component, which evaluates a company’s supplier relations, diversity, involvement in the community, and charitable giving.