Suntory Beverage and Food to switch on-the-go bottles to 100% recycled plastics

Suntory, which owns brands such as Lucozade, Ribena and Orangina, will make the switch to 100% recycled polyethylene tetraphyte (rPET) plastic by the end of the year.

The company estimates that this switch, which doesn’t include the cap and label, will reduce emissions by more than 36,000 tonnes.

Suntory’s head of sustainability Liz Nieboer said: “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.”

Lucozade Sport, Orangina and Ribena bottles are already 100% rPET, but Suntory is having to overcome supply-related challenges for Lucozade Energy drinks to meet this new goal.

There is currently an industry shortage of food grade quality rPET, to the point where it is currently 39% more expensive than virgin PET. As an intermediate step, Suntory will ensure that 30% rPET it used in Lucozade Energy bottles.

Last year, the company unveiled a new prototype bottle made from 100% plant-based materials, as it strives towards a goal to eliminate all petroleum-based virgin plastics from its PET supply chain.

The bottle has been developed through a decade-long partnership with the US-based sustainable technology company Anellotech. While Suntory’s PET bottles are traditionally made using terephthalic acid (PTA) and mono ethylene glycol (MEG), the new prototypes consist of 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.

Suntory is aiming to commercialise these bottles and they will be used for the Orangina brand in Europe and the Tennensui brand in Japan.

The firm is notably working to halve emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2050. On plastics, its aim is to ensure that all packaging is “completely sustainable” by the end of this decade. The company’s definition of “completely sustainable” covers full recyclability, high recycling rates and eliminating virgin fossil materials wherever possible.

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