Lucozade producer reveals world's first endlessly recyclable plastic bottle
By Matt Hall | 24th June 2021
The promise of endlessly recycled PET plastic is one step closer today, as an industry consortium announced the successful production of the world's first food-grade PET plastic bottles produced entirely from enzymatically recycled plastic.
Each consortium member - which includes Coleford-based Suntory Beverage and Food Europe, Carbios, L'Oréal, Nestlé Waters and PepsiCo - has successfully manufactured sample bottles - based on Carbios' enzymatic PET recycling technology.
Orangina is one of the iconic brands modelling the technology which could see brands like Ribena and Lucozade follow suite.
Suntory said this ground-breaking milestone is a key building block in its roadmap to full circularity for its drinks packaging, and its transition to removing fossil-fuel-based plastic from its packaging by 2030. The firm's roadmap to 100 per cent sustainable plastic packing includes: investing in enzymatic recycling, creating bottles fit for circularity, using more recycled material and removing unnecessary plastic.
The news follows the Gloucestershire based company's recent £7.8m investment to make its existing packaging more sustainable too. This includes new designs for its Ribena and Lucozade bottles that aid bottle-to-bottle recycling, the switch to 100 per cent recycled plastic for Lucozade Sport by the end of this year, and the switch to recyclable paper straws on its Ribena cartons.
Suntory's Ribena bottle is already acknowledged as an example of best in class sustainable packaging by the Recycling Association, and today's announcement will address the shortage of rPET that holds back more brands from following its lead in making bottles from bottles. Together with a goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 today's news reflects the company's vision of Growing for Good.
Michelle Norman, director of external affairs and sustainability, Suntory Beverage and Food Great Britain & Ireland, said: "Bottle to bottle recycling is an incredibly sustainable and resource efficient way to manage PET plastics to ensure they don't end up as waste and today's announcement will ensure a valuable material like plastic stays in circulation and out of the environment, which is ultimately what we're striving for.
"I'm excited not just by the potential this holds for our much-loved drinks brands, but the entire food and drink industry."
Today's announcement is the culmination of nearly 10 years' research and development by Carbios to create a new process and supercharge an enzyme naturally occurring in compost heaps that normally breaks down leaf membranes of dead plants. By adapting this enzyme, Carbios has fine-tuned the technology and optimized this enzyme to break down any kind of PET plastic (regardless of color or complexity) into its building blocks, which can then be turned back into like-new, virgin-quality plastic.
Carbios' CEO Jean Claude Lumaret added: "In a world first, we have created food-grade clear bottles from enzymatically recycled colored and complex plastic with identical properties to virgin PET, and in partnership with the consortium, we have proved the viability of the technology with the world's leading brands. This is a truly transformational innovation that could finally fully close the loop on PET plastic supply globally, so that it never becomes waste."
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