Suntory Beverage & Food said its decision announced on Friday to switch to 100% recycled plastic was a significant investment as growing demand for rPET drove up costs. The European price for rPET is currently 39% more expensive than virgin PET, he said.
Recycled plastic has on average a 79% lower carbon footprint than virgin plastic and the company estimates that its switch to rPET in its take-out bottles will lead to a reduction of 36,058 tonnes of CO2 from scope 3 emissions from its goods. purchased.
Suntory already uses 100% rPET for its Lucozade Sport, Orangina and Ribena bottles, but needs additional sourcing to achieve this for its Lucozade Energy brand. To address short-term industry shortages and ensure the company meets the current requirement of 30% rPET in its Lucozade Energy bottles, the company has invested in a 9,000 tonne PET resin that uses 30% recycled material processed by chemical recycling technology.
Chemical recycling – an alternative to mechanical methods – uses enzymes to break down any PET plastic into its core building blocks, allowing it to be reformed into a new, food-grade rPET with the same properties as the virgin material.
It’s a process that Suntory has championed alongside L’Oréal, Nestlé Waters and PepsiCo as part of the Carbios consortium. The technology uses enzymes, found naturally in compost heaps, and adapts them to break down any type of PET plastic, regardless of color or complexity. The enzyme leaves behind a raw material that can then be converted back into virgin-grade plastic, he explained.
“Our move to 100% rPET for our 500ml ready-to-drink bottles is a great achievement and an important step in our commitment to achieve 100% sustainable packaging by 2030,” Liz Nieboer, Head of Sustainability at Suntory Beverage & Foods. “This is the result of years of hard work and while reaching this milestone is a cause for celebration, there is still much to do in terms of recycling infrastructure. There has been a historic underinvestment in the UK’s recycling and collection infrastructure, meaning less than a third of bottles are turned back into bottles.”
In October, Carbios successfully launched an industrial demonstration plant for its enzyme-based plastic recycling technology. The consortium said it was now working “hand in hand” with its multinational brand partners to implement its technology and “lead the transition to a true circular economy”.