The German Wells Cooperative (GDB) is the purchasing and service organisation for German mineral springs with around 180 member companies. Petainer has partnered with GDB since 1996, and in 2021 the companies mark the 25th anniversary of this cooperation. Last year, German mineral fountains filled 1.9 billion Refillable PET pool bottles from the German Wells Cooperative. Together, the two companies have established one of the most sustainable Refillable PET bottles pools globally.
In the German market, Refillable PET bottles are used by bottlers for carbonated beverages and mineral water products. Once consumed, the bottles are returned via a deposit return system to be washed and refilled by bottlers for up to 25 cycles. This sustainable packaging solution has a far lower carbon footprint than the refillable, or one-way, glass bottle equivalent. For example, the use of Refillable PET instead of glass leads to a decrease in CO2 emissions of 81% for the same use cycle. The returnable nature of the bottles means responsibility for the end-of-life of the product is built-in. Bottles at the end of their life are withdrawn from the pool at the bottlers filling lines and are sent to be recycled for the production of new bottles, making Refillable PET a zero waste beverage packaging format.
In 2021, Petainer has taken this truly sustainable beverage packaging solution even further by increasing the recycled content in these bottles to 30% across a range of bottle types and sizes, including the classic 1L pearl bottle. This development will lead to a carbon footprint reduction of 28%, a significant step towards helping GDB realise its ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030. The majority of the CO2 emissions come from virgin PET, with minimal contributions from the manufacturing process and transport. Therefore, the biggest impact is made by replacing carbon-intensive virgin PET resin with rPET, which has a much lower carbon footprint. This increase in rPET, coupled with the use of renewable energy at Petainer’s production facility in As, Czech, is helping GDB member companies achieve their sustainability target in becoming carbon neutral.
Development projects by Petainer have proven the feasibility of a 50% rPET solution for RefPET with 100% on the horizon. Further work to offset any unavoidable emissions from the use of rPET is being explored, along with the use of higher quality recycled materials.
When customers perceive the end-of-life solutions of a product as important as the carbon footprint, the Refillable PET bottle with recycled content is the ultimate sustainable solution. This combination of reuse, recycled content, and responsible end-of-life makes Refillable PET best suited for the circular economy.