Europe’s bottled water industry has announced two major commitments that will strengthen its effort on reducing plastic waste.
Members of the European Federation of Bottled Waters (EFBW) will commit to collecting 90% of all PET bottles by 2025 as an EU average, ensuring discarded plastic containers can be converted into rPET.
They will also collaborate with the recycling industry to use at least 25% rPET in new bottles by 2025, highlighting the industry’s commitment to closing the circular economy.
The EFBW, which represents Europe’s bottled water producers, pointed out that all packaging used by the industry is recyclable – including glass, PET and aluminium. But, while declining to pass the blame for post-consumer waste to consumers, the organisation acknowledged that current PET collection rates vary drastically throughout the EU.
EFBW president Jean-Pierre Deffis said: “Building on our longstanding sustainable approach to resource management, we are committed to achieving these industry-wide actions. PET drink bottles already achieve the highest recycling rate of any plastic packaging material in the EU. But even one bottle ending up as litter is one too many.
“It will take a concerted, coordinated effort from many different value-chain actors to drive positive change. EFBW’s members are stepping up to lead the way.”
To ensure that its members can deliver on the new pledges, the EFBW intends to work with all relevant stakeholders, including Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE).
PRE’s president, Ton Emans, welcomed EFBW’s initiative: “Over the last years the bottled water industry has been a front runner in PET circularity. Recyclers are eager to embark on this new journey. Today PET recyclers do not have enough feedstock to supply the market. The priority is to drastically improve collection and quality sorting.”
As well as the two headline commitments, the EFBW plans to invest further in the development of renewable packaging materials, claiming “the bottled water industry has always had sustainability at its heart”.
EFBW members will also engage with consumers, who play a key role in preventing littering, while supporting initiatives to encourage the proper disposal of PET packaging.
Plastics face mounting pressure; scrutiny over the extent of plastic waste and single-use plastic packages was worsened by revelations that bottled water brands, highly regarded for their safety and purity, were found to contain high levels of microplastics – in some cases a result of polypropylene caps.
Companies like Nestlé, Unilever and Coca-Cola had already announced extensive action on plastic.
In order to guarantee transparency and accountability, EFBW will report regularly on progress of the pledges announced today.
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