Resource efficiency has long been at the heart of our thinking around sustainability, particularly when it comes to our packaging. We have made positive progress across our business in recent years. But we know there is much more to be done – by
That’s why we have embarked on a review of our sustainable packaging strategy to understand what role we should play in unlocking the full potential of the circular economy in this country.
Some important actions are well underway. For instance: all our bottles and cans are being made as light as possible; are already 100% recyclable; and contain increasing amounts of recycled and renewable material.
We now want to accelerate our progress, particularly with regards to our plastic bottles, and have been talking with expert organisations and policymakers across Great Britain in recent months to understand their thinking about our packaging and how it should evolve.
The results of this ongoing review will be published in the summer. But we already know that British consumers expect companies to be doing more and our stakeholders rightly expect us to keep pushing the boundaries when it comes to our use of recycled materials – closing the loop and supporting recycling in this country.
With regards plastic packaging, where there is growing interest and debate, we are one of the very few drinks companies actually supporting recyclers in this country. Today, we are able to include 25% rPET in every one of our plastic bottles and are planning to increase that proportion to 40% by 2020. This is only possible because of our long-standing agreement to buy this material from Europe’s largest plastic bottle recycling plant, which is based in Lincolnshire. This plant is a key piece of the country’s plastic recycling infrastructure, with many of the PET bottles collected from households being reprocessed in Lincolnshire.
Governments across Great Britain clearly have an important role to play in nurturing the potential of the manufacturing capabilities at the heart of the circular economy – whether as part of Westminster’s recently released Industrial Strategy or Scotland’s ongoing work to support circular economy solutions. Businesses across our sector also have an important role to play in making this all work.
At the same time, it’s very clear from the conversations we are having that there are growing expectations on all of us to work together to identify ways of improving the current system of packaging recovery.
We believe that household collections provide a robust packaging recovery solution for Great Britain. But recycling rates have stalled in many parts of the country and we think it’s time to update the existing producer responsibility obligations as we look to improve the current approach.
Understandably, there is also a growing interest in exploring the role that could be played by introducing a deposit return scheme in this country on drinks packaging. We have supported the introduction of such schemes in other countries in Europe. The key is that this cannot be implemented in isolation – it must work for all parties across the value chain and be rooted into an overall strategy on the circular economy. Despite the complexity, we are willing to support the trial of a well-designed deposit return scheme to understand the role it could play to increase packaging recycling and reducing litter.
We welcome the fact that consumers are increasingly questioning the environmental impact of the packaging used by our industry. It’s a really important debate. Our packaging is valuable and we want to see all our bottles and cans being recovered and recycled; we certainly don’t want any of them being landfilled or littered after use.
We certainly wouldn’t claim to have all the answers to that challenge. But we remain absolutely committed to the continuous improvement that will be necessary towards the circular economy in Great Britain.
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