Ribena redesigns plastic labels in bid for ‘bottle-to-bottle’ recycling
Soft drinks giant Ribena has redesigned the sleeves on its plastic bottles, in a move it claims will improve recycling rates and prevent downcycling.
The redesign, which affects its 500ml formats, will mitigate the use of 202 tonnes of plastic annually. The new bottles will hit shelves in January 2021.
Ribena’s parent company Suntory Beverage and Food GB said it has worked closely with WRAP, waste management companies and the Department for Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) to ensure that the new bottles can be processed within existing infrastructure in the UK – in a way that produces material that can be used to make new bottles.
Technically, the bottles have always been recyclable. But the dark colour and length of the sleeve could stop sensors at some recycling plants from identifying the clear plastic bottle underneath, resulting in downcycling. Research from WRAP suggests that outer labels covering less than 60% of the bottle are easier to be detected and correctly sorted.
Completing the redesign was a two-year process which cost more than £1.6m to complete, Suntory Beverage and Food GB told media representatives.
Ribena had already switched to 100% recycled plastic content across its 500ml plastic bottles and first publicly announced plans to redesign bottle sleeves in 2019.
“We have been highly critical of manufacturers who have not taken responsibility for the full life cycle and recyclability of their products,” the Recycling Association’s chief executive Dr Simon Ellin said.
“Suntory Beverage and Food GB&I have been proactive in this space… Not only is the bottle made from 100% recycled plastic but the label has been minimised to ensure the bottle can be easily identified, sorted and recycled using standard industry technology. [The company is] doing the right thing and other manufacturers should follow their lead.”
The announcement It also follows the launch of the company’s Lucozade Sport Fitwater range, which was designed from the outset with bottle-to-bottle recycling in mind.
UK Plastics Pact
Like several other major food and beverage companies, Suntory Beverage and Food GB is a signatory of WRAP’s UK Plastics Pact.
The Pact requires signatories to eliminate unnecessary single-use packaging through redesign; make all plastic packaging 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable; achieve recycling and composting rates of 70% or more for packaging, and include 30% recycled content across all packaging. All of these aims have 2025 deadlines.
The redesign clearly plays into the first and second aims directly, and, indirectly, will impact the last commitment.
Elsewhere in its plastics strategy, Suntory Beverage and Food GB is planning to lightweight its plastic bottles and develop a behaviour change scheme around carton and straw recycling. It is also investing in plastic-free, seaweed-based edible packaging for sporting events and gym vending machines.