Lucozade producer introduces 100 per cent plant-based PET bottle prototypes
By Matt Hall | 3rd December 2021
Coleford-based drinks company, Suntory Group, best known in the UK for its Lucozade, Ribena and Orangina brands, has announced a step towards its aim to use 100 per cent sustainable PET bottles globally by 2030.
The firm has successfully created a prototype PET bottle made from 100 per cent plant-based materials, for the company's iconic Orangina brand in Europe along with its best-selling bottled mineral water brand in Japan, Suntory Tennensui.
Suntory said the announcement marks a breakthrough after a nearly decade-long partnership with the US-based sustainable technology company Anellotech and it aims to commercialize this 100 per cent plant-based bottle as soon as possible to meet its 2030 fully sustainable PET bottle goal.
PET is produced using two raw materials, 70 per cent terephthalic acid (PTA) and 30 per cent mono ethylene glycol (MEG).
Suntory's prototype plant-based bottle is made by combining Anellotech's new technology, a plant-based paraxylene derived from wood chips, which has been converted to plant-based PTA, and pre-existing plant-based MEG made from molasses which Suntory has been using in its Suntory Tennensui brand in Japan since 2013.
The fully recyclable prototype plant-based bottle is estimated to significantly lower carbon emissions compared to petroleum derived virgin bottle. an important contribution to the company's path to net zero emissions by 2050 across its whole value chain.
Tsunehiko Yokoi, executive officer of Suntory MONOZUKURI Expert Ltd said: "We're delighted with this achievement, as it brings us one step closer to delivering this sustainable PET bottle to the hands of our consumers.
"The significance of this technology is that the PTA is produced from non-food biomass to avoid competition with the food chain, while MEG is also derived from non-food grade feedstock."
In the UK, Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I (SBF GB&I) has a strong track record for innovation. The Ribena bottle has used recycled plastic since 2007. The company recently invested £7.8m to make its packaging even more sustainable by replacing plastic straws with paper ones on all Ribena cartons and all its core products including Lucozade Energy variants and Lucozade Sport are recyclable.
SBF GB&I is also said to support the acceleration of efficient recycling programmes, including the introduction of Deposit Return Schemes across the four nations and Ireland. Earlier this year, the company launched the world's first Orangina bottle made from an enzymatic recycling process with the Carbios-led consortium.
SBFE's R&D director Vincent Meron said: "We strongly believe that plastic, when produced and recycled responsibly, has a significant role to play in soft drinks manufacturing. Today's announcement demonstrates that we can take wood chips and molasses and turn them into plastic which can then be recycled again.
"In the future we will integrate this new bio plastic with plastic made from post-consumer waste. This will enable us to move away from plastic bottles made from fossil fuel, which also supports our green-house gas emissions reduction activity."
Michelle Norman, director of Sustainability & External Affairs External Affairs at Suntory Beverage & Food Europe added: "Bringing plant-based plastics into the supply chain solves a major challenge for drinks companies.
"Due to the low availability of recycled plastic across Europe innovation like this will ensure that the demand for our much-loved drinks can be met in a sustainable way for future generations to come."
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