This is a significant achievement for SBF GB&I in the face of current industry challenges to secure supply of food grade quality rPET. It’s also a considerable investment from the business as the demand for this material is pushing up costs - the European price of rPET currently 39% more expensive* compared to virgin PET.
Recycled plastic has on average a 79% lower carbon footprint than virgin plastic** and SBF GB&I estimates that this switch to rPET across its on-the-go bottles will see a reduction in 36,058 tonnes of CO2 from its purchased goods Scope 3 emissions.
Our shift to 100% rPET for our 500ml ready-to-drink bottles is a huge achievement, and an important step in our commitment to achieving 100% sustainable packaging by 2030. It’s the result of years of hard-work and whilst reaching this milestone is a cause for celebration, much still needs to be done in terms of recycling infrastructure. There has been a historic under investment in the UK’s recycling and collection infrastructures, meaning less than a third of bottles are turned back into bottles.
Liz Nieboer, Head of Sustainability at Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I commented
Lucozade Sport, Orangina and Ribena bottles are already 100% rPET, but further supply is needed to meet this for Lucozade Energy. To address industry shortages in the short term and ensure SBF GB&I meets the current requirement of 30% rPET in its Lucozade Energy bottles, the company has invested in a PET resin which contains recycled material content processed by chemical recycling technology. An alternative to mechanical methods, chemical recycling breaks down any PET plastic to its core elements allowing it to be reformed into new food-grade rPET, as though it was a virgin material once again. It is ideal for bottle to bottle recycling of PET when colour and purity needs to be improved compared to mechanical methods.
SBF GB&I believes that an industry-wide lack of food-grade quality rPET across Europe will slow other organisations from following its lead. That’s why it is working with Government, industry and other partners to deliver a circular economy for plastics.
Ribena was one of the first major UK soft drinks brand to make its bottles from 100% rPET in 2007 and recently made further design changes to optimise bottle to bottle recycling by reducing the size of the bottle sleeve. SBF GB&I also recently announced a new prototype PET bottle made from plant-based materials and has been working as part of the Carbios consortium on enzymatic recycling technology, further examples of how the business is continuing to innovate its packaging.
The latest shift is just the next step on SBF GB&I’s ongoing journey to halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieving its 2050 net zero emissions ambition, as part of its Growing for Good vision. Since 2019, the business has decreased its carbon emissions by 24% and GHG emissions by over 14%.
*ICIS index weekly publication of food PET, average for April 2022
**ALPA study, 2017
**** Methodology: The net demand for PET across Europe was 5.1mt in 2020 (PET Market in Europe, pg. 8). 70% of all PET used across Europe is by the beverage industry (UNESDA). 70% of 5.1 mt = 3.56 mt