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Bottled water has retained its title as America’s favourite packaged drink, outselling carbonated soft drinks (by volume) for the eighth year in a row, new data from the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC) shows.

Bottled water’s total volume sold in 2023 was 15.94 billion gallons, compared to carbonated soft drinks, which sold 11.84 billion gallons. Bottled water retail sales surpassed USD 48 billion, up 6.5 % from 2022.

“Multiple characteristics account for bottled water’s resonance with U.S. consumers, including its associations with healthfulness, convenience, safety, and value. An array of packaging types, ranging from single-serve to bulk, facilitates a wide range of uses,” says John G. Rodwan, Jr., BMC’s editorial director.

“Consumers’ thirst for beverages that offer benefits beyond refreshment alone also contributed to the fundamental hydrating beverage’s rise in the beverage standings. Bottled water’s zero-calorie status and its lack of artificial ingredients appeal to many consumers. Even where tap water may be safe and readily available, people may prefer bottled water, which they often believe tastes better. The availability of packaged water wherever beverages are sold also differentiates bottled water from tap,” says Rodwan.

Bottled water products compete with other packaged drinks, but not tap water. Most bottled water drinkers consume both tap water and bottled water, packaged conveniently in 3 and 5-gallon for the home and office, or at retail 1 and 2.5 gallon or individual size commonly sold by the case. However, when people are away from home and bottled water isn’t available, 70 % say they will choose another packaged drink, according to a survey conducted in 2022 on behalf of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) by The Harris Poll. Survey respondent choices were as follows: soda (22 %), sparkling or sweetened or flavored bottled water (10 %), sports drink (8 %), tea (7 %), coffee (6 %), juice/fruit drinks (5 %), functional water (5 %), bottled tea (4 %), energy drink (3 %). Among the remaining 30 %, a third (10 %) would drink from a water dispenser, either using a refillable cup (5 %) or disposable cup (5 %). Ten percent would drink filtered tap water, 6 % would drink unfiltered tap water, while 4 % would drink from a public water fountain (down from 7 % in 2019).

For more than a decade, consumers have been increasingly choosing bottled water instead of less-healthy packaged drinks. In fact, since 2012, 34 % of bottled water’s growth has come from people switching from less-healthy drinks to bottled water.

Bottled water’s volume surpassed soft drinks for the first time in 2016 and has done so every year since. Americans consumed, on average, 46.4 gallons of bottled water in 2023, compared to 34.4 gallons of soda. The fact is that consumers demand bottled water. Research shows that nine out of 10 Americans (91 %) say they expect bottled water to be available wherever other drinks are sold.

“Consumer preference for healthy hydration and bottled water is really good news for public health,” says Jill Culora, IBWA’s vice president of communications. “This is particularly important as the nation continues to experience high rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.”

“Bottled water also has the added benefit of packaging that is 100 % recyclable, unlike laminated paper cartons, which technically can be recycled but most often they are not accepted by the majority of municipal recycling systems in the United States. Not only are bottled water containers 100 % recyclable (including the cap) but they also use much less plastic than other packaged beverages.”

Even with continuing growth and increased consumption, bottled water still has the smallest impact on the environment—thanks to the fact that it has the smallest water and energy use footprint of any packaged beverage. On average, only 1.4 liters of water (including the 1 liter of water consumed) and 0.21 mega joules of energy are used to produce 1 liter of finished bottled water.

Most bottled water is packaged in 100 % recyclable PET #1 plastic and HDPE #2 plastic, which are the plastics most recognised by consumers as being recyclable and the most recycled plastics in the world. Consumers can be confident about recycling plastic bottled water containers because they are among the few consumer packaging types that are universally recyclable across the United States. Not all cities and towns recycle glass bottles and laminated paper cartons, which are most commonly comprised of multiple layers of paper, plastic, and aluminum or wax.

PET plastic bottled water containers are the most recycled containers in U.S. curbside recycling programs, accounting for 52 %. PET plastic bottled water containers are a valuable resource because they can be recycled and used over and over again.

Recycling facilities know that there is a huge industry demand for post-consumer PET and HDPE plastics. Many bottled water companies use recycled PET and HDPE plastic to create new bottles, which helps to reduce their environmental impact further because they aren’t using virgin plastic.

“Helping people make healthier choices is at the core of the bottled water business,” says Culora. “Consumers have made it clear that there’s a demand for safe, healthy, and convenient bottled water, as they are responsible for propelling bottled water to the title of America’s most popular packaged beverage, by volume.”

Neste has entered a cooperation with Suntory, ENEOS and Mitsubishi Corporation to enable the production of PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) resin made with renewable Neste RE on a commercial scale. Neste RE is Neste’s feedstock for polymers production, made 100 % from bio-based raw materials such as waste and residues, e.g. used cooking oil, to replace fossil feedstock in the value chain. Japanese beverage company Suntory will utilise the renewable PET resin to produce bottles for its products in 2024. 

A new partner for Neste in Japan, ENEOS will use bio-intermediates based on Neste RE to produce bio-PX (Bio-Paraxylene) at its Mizushima Refinery in Okayama, Japan. The bio-PX will then be converted to PTA (Purified Terephthalic Acid) and subsequently to PET resin for Suntory to use to manufacture their PET bottles. Mitsubishi Corporation will be coordinating the collaboration between the value chain partners.

“In order to tackle the imminent climate crisis and its consequences, companies are required to take responsibility now. Through partnering along the value chain, Neste can contribute to reducing the polymers and chemicals industry’s dependence on fossil resources as well as to manufacturing of products that have a lower carbon footprint,” says Lilyana Budyanto, Head of Sustainable Partnerships APAC at Neste Renewable Polymers and Chemicals business unit.

A mass balancing approach will be applied to allocate the bio-based materials to the PET bottles.

Mondi, a global leader in sustainable packaging and paper, has won the coveted PPI Award in the Product Innovation category for its Hug&Hold packaging solution. The Fastmarkets Forest Products PPI Awards are the only global awards dedicated to recognising the achievements of companies, mills and individuals in the pulp and paper sector.

Hug&Hold is a paper packaging solution designed and developed to wrap and transport PET beverage bottles, replacing plastic shrink wrap. It is a recyclable 100% paper-based solution, comprising a kraft paper sleeve and a corrugated clip to secure the bottles and offer a comfortable handle for transportation.

The Product Innovation Award is presented to companies that demonstrate how a newly developed product solves an existing need or problem. Hug&Hold is perfect for FMCG brands and beverage producers, who want more sustainable packaging solutions that appeal to consumers and meet their product protection needs.

A sustainable, functional and fully automated alternative to plastic shrink wrap means that brand owners can safely switch to the recyclable paper-based packaging solution, without any risk to their product or logistics. With Hug&Hold, Mondi is the first to manufacture and market a complete concept, providing a strong and stable solution that is made from renewable and fully recyclable materials, suitable for existing paper waste streams throughout Europe.

Tarik Aniba, Sales & Marketing Director Corrugated Solutions at Mondi, says: “We are committed to making the most sustainable packaging solutions for our customers and we are very proud to see our innovations being recognised by our peers.”

Silvia Hanzelova, Sales Director Specialty Kraft Paper at Mondi, says: “Leveraging Mondi’s team of kraft paper and corrugated specialists, we were able to develop a fully paper-based solution with minimal material usage. Following thorough testing, Hug&Hold has been confirmed in terms of runnability and viability.”

The award ceremony took place in the city of Prague, Czechia, on 8 March 2023. Find out more about Hug&Hold, the responsible way to deliver your beverages.

An enzyme variant created by engineers and scientists at The University of Texas at Austin can break down environment-throttling plastics that typically take centuries to degrade in just a matter of hours to days.

This discovery, published in Nature, could help solve one of the world’s most pressing environmental problems: what to do with the billions of tons of plastic waste piling up in landfills and polluting our natural lands and water. The enzyme has the potential to supercharge recycling on a large scale that would allow major industries to reduce their environmental impact by recovering and reusing plastics at the molecular level.

“The possibilities are endless across industries to leverage this leading-edge recycling process,” said Hal Alper, professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering at UT Austin. “Beyond the obvious waste management industry, this also provides corporations from every sector the opportunity to take a lead in recycling their products. Through these more sustainable enzyme approaches, we can begin to envision a true circular plastics economy.”

The project focuses on polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a significant polymer found in most consumer packaging, including cookie containers, soda bottles, fruit and salad packaging, and certain fibers and textiles. It makes up 12 % of all global waste.

The enzyme was able to complete a “circular process” of breaking down the plastic into smaller parts (depolymerization) and then chemically putting it back together (repolymerization). In some cases, these plastics can be fully broken down to monomers in as little as 24 hours.

Researchers at the Cockrell School of Engineering and College of Natural Sciences used a machine learning model to generate novel mutations to a natural enzyme called PETase that allows bacteria to degrade PET plastics. The model predicts which mutations in these enzymes would accomplish the goal of quickly depolymerizing post-consumer waste plastic at low temperatures.

Through this process, which included studying 51 different post-consumer plastic containers, five different polyester fibers and fabrics and water bottles all made from PET, the researchers proved the effectiveness of the enzyme, which they are calling FAST-PETase (functional, active, stable and tolerant PETase).

“This work really demonstrates the power of bringing together different disciplines, from synthetic biology to chemical engineering to artificial intelligence,” said Andrew Ellington, professor in the Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology whose team led the development of the machine learning model.

Recycling is the most obvious way to cut down on plastic waste. But globally, less than 10% of all plastic has been recycled. The most common method for disposing of plastic, besides throwing it in a landfill, is to burn it, which is costly, energy intensive and spews noxious gas into the air. Other alternative industrial processes include very energy-intensive processes of glycolysis, pyrolysis, and/or methanolysis.

Biological solutions take much less energy. Research on enzymes for plastic recycling has advanced during the past 15 years. However, until now, no one had been able to figure out how to make enzymes that could operate efficiently at low temperatures to make them both portable and affordable at large industrial scale. FAST-PETase can perform the process at less than 50 degrees Celsius.

Up next, the team plans to work on scaling up enzyme production to prepare for industrial and environmental application. The researchers have filed a patent application for the technology and are eying several different uses. Cleaning up landfills and greening high waste-producing industries are the most obvious. But another key potential use is environmental remediation. The team is looking at a number of ways to get the enzymes out into the field to clean up polluted sites.

“When considering environmental cleanup applications, you need an enzyme that can work in the environment at ambient temperature. This requirement is where our tech has a huge advantage in the future,” Alper said.

Alper, Ellington, associate professor of chemical engineering Nathaniel Lynd and Hongyuan Lu, a postdoctoral researcher in Alper’s lab, led the research. Raghav Shroff, a former member of Ellington’s lab and now a research scientist at the Houston Methodist Research Institute, created the 3DCNN machine learning model used to engineer the plastic-eating enzyme. Danny Diaz, a current member of Ellington’s lab, adapted the model and created a web platform, MutCompute, to make it available for wider academic use. Other team members include from chemical engineering: Natalie Czarnecki, Congzhi Zhu and Wantae Kim; and from molecular biosciences: Daniel Acosta, Brad Alexander, Hannah O. Cole and Yan Jessie Zhang. The work was funded by ExxonMobil’s research and engineering division as part of an ongoing research agreement with UT Austin.

Plastipak, a global leader in the design, manufacture and recycling of plastic containers has completed a major investment to significantly expand its PET recycling capacity at its manufacturing site in Bascharage, Luxembourg.

The original PET recycling facility in Luxembourg opened in 2008 and this new expansion increases annual production capacity by 136 %. The installation and commissioning of the expansion took 12 months and has officially opened.

The recycling facility is co-located with Plastipak’s flagship preform and container manufacturing facility and converts washed rPET flakes originating from post-consumer bottles into food-grade recycled PET (rPET) pellets.

The rPET produced at the site is converted into new preforms and containers produced at the Bascharage facility, which principally serves the German and Benelux food and beverage markets. The expansion complements Plastipak’s existing recycling facilities in France, UK and USA, and follows the recent announcement of a new recycling facility at its plant in Toledo, Spain.

“This latest investment to increase our capacity in rPET production actively demonstrates Plastipak’s long-term commitment to bottle-to-bottle recycling and our leadership in the PET circular economy” explained Pedro Martins, Executive Managing Director of Plastipak’s European division. “Plastipak is the leading producer of food-grade rPET in Europe, with the majority of the post-consumer recycled material we use in Europe produced in-house”.

“Plastipak began producing post-consumer recycled resins for packaging customers in 1989, and has had many expansions in North America and Europe since then. We are excited to continue supporting our global packaging customers in achieving their sustainability goals” said Dave Stajninger, Plastipak’s Global recycling Business Manager.

Plastipak is a major convertor of recycled PET, which represents 27 % of the total resin consumed in Plastipak’s European sites in 2020. At the site of this latest rPET expansion, Bascharage, the proportion of recycled resin consumed in 2020 was 45.3 %.

Suntory Group announced that, as a crucial step toward its aim to use 100 % sustainable PET bottles globally by 2030 and eliminate all petroleum-based virgin plastic from its global PET supply, the company has successfully created a prototype PET bottle made from 100 % plant-based materials. The prototype has been produced for the company’s iconic Orangina brand in Europe along with its best-selling bottled mineral water brand in Japan, Suntory Tennensui. This announcement marks a breakthrough after a nearly decade-long partnership with the US-based sustainable technology company Anellotech.

PET is produced using two raw materials, 70 % terephthalic acid (PTA) and 30 % mono ethylene glycol (MEG). Suntory’s prototype plant-based bottle is made by combining Anellotech’s new technology, 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.

“We’re delighted with this achievement, as it brings us one step closer to delivering this sustainable PET bottle to the hands of our consumers,” said Tsunehiko Yokoi, Executive Officer of Suntory MONOZUKURI Expert Ltd. “The significance of this technology is that the PTA is produced from non-food biomass to avoid competition with the food chain, while MEG is also derived from non-food grade feedstock.”

This innovation is an additional step towards achieving Suntory Group’s ambition to eliminate use of all petroleum-derived virgin PET plastic bottles globally by transitioning to 100 % recycled or plant-based PET bottles by 2030. The fully recyclable prototype plant-based bottle is estimated to significantly lower carbon emissions compared to petroleum derived virgin bottle.

“This achievement is the result of over ten years of thorough and painstaking development work by Anellotech’s dedicated employees, together with Suntory and other partners,” said David Sudolsky, President and CEO of Anellotech. “The competitive advantage of Anellotech’s Bio-TCat generated paraxylene is its process efficiency (it uses a single-step thermal catalytic process by going directly from biomass to aromatics (benzene, toluene and xylene)), as well as the opportunity it creates for a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as compared to its identical fossil-derived paraxylene in the manufacture of PET, especially as it generates required process energy from the biomass feedstock itself.”

This technology is one of the latest investments from Suntory in the company’s long history of addressing the social and environmental impacts of containers and packaging. In 1997, Suntory established its “Guidelines for the Environmental Design of Containers and Packaging.” For plastic bottles specifically, it has used its 2R+B (Reduce/Recycle + Bio) strategy to reduce the weight of containers, including labels and caps, and actively introduce recycled or plant-based materials in its plastic bottles used globally. Most significantly, it has created the lightest bottle cap, the thinnest bottle label, and the lightest PET bottle produced in Japan to date.

“Suntory has been entrenched in the work to create sustainable packaging solutions since 1997. This plant-based bottle prototype honors our historic dedication while shining a light, not only on our path to achieving our 2030 fully sustainable PET bottle goal, but also towards our ambition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the entire value chain by 2050,” said Tomomi Fukumoto, COO of Sustainability Management at Suntory Holdings.

This milestone amplifies the great momentum of Suntory’s continuous work on promoting a plastic circular economy, through the development of sustainable materials, adoption of circular processes, investment to pioneer advanced technologies and promotion of behavioral change for consumers. Suntory aims to commercialize this 100 % plant-based bottle as soon as possible to meet its 2030 fully sustainable PET bottle goal.

The non-alcoholic beverage industry, represented by the European Fruit Juice Association (AIJN), Natural Mineral Waters Europe (NMWE) and UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe, calls on the European Commission for “priority access” to its recycled plastic (PET) material, or a similar mechanism that guarantees “right of first refusal”, to be incorporated in the upcoming revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive.

As the beverage industry continues to invest in circularity and to put highly recyclable PET on the market, it needs to have priority access to its own recycled packaging material. This will help the beverage industry produce new packaging with food-grade recycled PET compliant with EU food safety standards, achieve its recycling targets and prevent its recycled PET being downcycled. Closing the bottle loop is required to ensure that the beverage industry meets the Single Use Plastics Directive (SUPD) targets and contributes to building a more circular economy for beverage packaging.

Wouter Lox, Secretary General of the European Fruit Juice Association (AIJN), commented: ‘’Food packaging serves specific needs, but most importantly is to safeguard the food products quality, conserves the food and assures food product safety. Also every food product has its specific packaging material properties and requirements in order to assure the packaging purpose. The access to the packaging material is essential to continue providing high quality and safe foods. This requirement needs to be merged with the sector commitments to respond to the EU Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan. Therefore the access to the recycled material responding to the highest food quality standards needs to be reassured at every stage of the circularity circle.’’

Patricia Fosselard, Secretary General of Natural Mineral Waters Europe, stated: “Thanks to significant investments in collection schemes and in eco-design, PET bottles have become the most collected and recycled items around Europe. Through well-designed Deposit Return Schemes, several countries already achieve collection rates above 90%. Our members are determined to give every bottle a second life, but they can only do this if they get back the material that they place on the market so we can successfully close the loop.”

Nicholas Hodac, Director General of UNESDA, added: ‘’The entire beverage industry in Europe is fully supportive of the EU Green Deal and Circular Economy Action Plan and is committed to delivering full circularity for PET bottles. To get there, we need the European Commission to allow us to have priority access to our own recycled plastic material to meet our EU recycling obligations and avoid downcycling, which will break the bottle loop. It is just fair that we regain the equivalent quantity of collected and recycled material that we place on the market to move circularity forward.’’

The beverage industry is subject to several mandatory requirements under SUPD, one of which is that PET in bottles has to be food-grade to comply with EU food safety standards. In addition to introducing mandatory collection targets for PET bottles, SUPD also mandates the beverage industry to use a minimum of 25 % (by 2025) and 30 % (by 2030) of recycled content. The beverage industry’s commitment is not only to achieve these EU targets, but also to go much further by creating a closed loop for its PET bottles. Granting the beverage industry fair access to the amount of PET plastic material that it puts on the market and of which it finances the collection is key to promote effective bottle-to-bottle recycling.

The promise of endlessly recycled PET plastic is one step closer today, as the Consortium – Carbios, L’Oréal, Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo and Suntory Beverage & Food Europe – announces the successful production of the world’s first food-grade PET plastic bottles produced entirely from enzymatically recycled plastic.

Each Consortium company has successfully manufactured sample bottles – based on Carbios’ enzymatic PET recycling technology – for some of their leading products including: Biotherm®, Perrier®, Pepsi Max®* and Orangina®.

Today’s announcement is the culmination of nearly 10 years’ research and development by Carbios to create a new process and supercharge an enzyme naturally occurring in compost heaps that normally breaks down leaf membranes of dead plants. By adapting this enzyme, Carbios has fine-tuned the technology and optimized this enzyme to break down any kind of PET plastic (regardless of color or complexity) into its building blocks, which can then be turned back into like-new, virgin-quality plastic.

Carbios’ patented enzymatic PET recycling process enables a wide variety of PET plastics to be recycled into virgin quality, food grade rPET. PET plastics that would otherwise go to waste or be incinerated, can now be brought back into a continuous circular system of recycling. And this can be achieved at high speed – breaking down 97 % of plastic in just 16 hours – 10,000 times more efficient than any biological plastic recycling trial to date (peer-reviewed article in Nature).

Together, these brands will work to scale this innovation to help meet the global demand for sustainable packaging solutions. In September 2021, Carbios will break ground on a demonstration plant, before launching a 40,000 tons capacity industrial facility, by 2025.

Enzymatic recycling overcomes the issue of degradation in conventional recycling and can be used on any type of PET plastic. Because Carbios’ recycling process works under mild conditions, it also lowers the carbon footprint of PET waste treatment by saving 30 % of CO2 emissions compared to a conventional end of life mix of incineration and landfill, taking virgin PET production substitution into account.**

The successful completion of these initial food-grade bottles is a major milestone in the Consortium’s validation of Carbios’ technology. This partnership is part of a growing trend amongst brands to collaborate across industries to tackle these global challenges, working towards a world of circularity, where we limit the production of virgin plastic.

Carbios will license its technology to PET manufacturers worldwide, accelerating the global adoption of enzymatic recycling for all kinds of PET based products.

*Pepsi Max® also known as Pepsi Black or Pepsi Zero Sugar in other global markets.
**Preliminary Life Cycle Assessment of Carbios PET recycling process, 2021

The shift from fossil-based to renewable bio-plastics requires new efficient methods. New technology developed at VTT enables the use of pectin-containing agricultural waste, such as citrus peel and sugar beet pulp, as raw material for bio-based PEF-plastics for replacing fossil-based PET. The carbon footprint of plastic bottles can be lowered by 50 % when replacing their raw material of PET with PEF polymers, which also provides a better shelf life for food.

“In the near future, you may buy orange juice in bottles that are made out of orange peel. VTT’s novel technology provides a circular approach to using food waste streams for high-performance food packaging material, and at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” shares Professor of Practice Holger Pöhler from VTT”.

PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and other polyesters are being widely used in food packaging, plastic bottles and textiles. The annual production of PET products is estimated at 30 million tonnes. Replacing fossil-based PET with plant-based PEF (polyethylene furanoate) polymers can lower the carbon footprint of the products by 50 %.

Moreover, the barrier properties of PEF plastics are better than PETs, meaning that the food products have a longer shelf life. PEF is a fully recyclable and renewable high-performance plastic. Therefore, it opens up possibilities for the industries to reduce waste and to have positive impact on the environment.

VTT’s technology has significant advantages for making bio-based PEF plastics. The technology uses a stable intermediate for the production of FDCA (2,5-furandicarboxylic acid), one of the monomers of PEF, which enables a highly efficient process. In addition, utilising pectin-containing waste streams opens up new possibilities for the circular economy of plastics.

VTT’s unique scale-up infrastructure from laboratory to pilot scale ensures that this new technology will be brought to a technology readiness level that will allow polymer manufacturers’ easy transition to full scale.

VTT has patented the technology, and the research has been published in the scientific journal Green Chemistry on 7 December 2020: A unique pathway to platform chemicals: aldaric acids as stable intermediates for the synthesis of furandicarboxylic acid esters

“Reduce, reuse, recycle”: for the KHS Group these three pillars of sustainability are a composite part of its corporate philosophy. The manufacturer of filling and packaging technology consistently focuses on resource-saving, recycling-friendly systems and solutions. Together with Austrian packaging expert ALPLA KHS has now developed a returnable PET container that at 55 grams is extremely light. The 1.0-liter bottle’s high recyclate content of 35 % also has a very positive effect on its overall ecobalance.

Extremely light and fully recyclable: KHS and ALPLA Group develop returnable PET bottle
Arne Wiese (Photo: KHS)

For decades the KHS Group has been heralded as a technological leader in returnable container systems, chiefly driven by its great innovative strength and striving to develop sustainable, future-proof plant engineering. The various partnerships it has formed with innovative figures in the industry have proved a further recipe for success. Together with ALPLA KHS has now developed a returnable PET bottle that is impressive with its low weight and high recyclate content. With this development the engineering company adheres to its maxim of “reduce and recycle”, states Arne Wiese, Bottles & Shapes product manager at the KHS Group. “We aimed to produce a returnable container system that’s as environmentally friendly as possible. Two parameters are of prime importance here: low weight and a high percentage of recyclate.”

Environmentally friendly: returnable bottle’s low weight convincing

By optimizing the bottle base and neck the packaging experts managed to considerably cut down on weight compared to conventional returnable PET containers. At 55 grams, on average the 1.0-liter bottle is ten grams lighter than its standard counterparts. Compared to glass containers it clocks up just a tenth of the weight on the scales. “This optimization means that the amount of material used is much lower. At the same time, fuel consumption and thus also CO2 emissions drop during transportation,” Wiese explains. Both have a positive effect on the bottle’s ecobalance.

Despite less use of materials the returnable system is ideal for a high circulation. The PET bottle has good resistance to caustic, meaning that its quality and appearance are maintained even after numerous washing cycles.

Sustainable: packaging system with high recyclate content

The aspects of easy recyclability and the use of recyclate also played a major role in the bottle’s development. The environmentally-friendly returnable container is not only fully recyclable and thus remains in the recycling loop; its high recyclate content is also compelling. “We’ve had outstanding test results with preforms made of up to 35 % recycled materials; preforms containing 50 % recyclate are also feasible for some brands,” states Wiese. The PET system devised by KHS and ALPLA therefore more than satisfies the European Commission’s requirement that one-way PET bottles comprise 30 % recyclate by 2030.

The optimized preforms can be blown on all KHS stretch blow molders for returnable containers. These include the particularly resource-saving InnoPET Blomax Series V. The new packaging system is suitable for all types of beverage in the returnable container segment. “We’re convinced that we can place our ecofriendly PET bottle on the market quickly and successfully. Our aim is to implement the market launch in close cooperation with bottling companies,” Wiese concludes.

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), the world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler, has taken an important step on its journey towards 100 % rPET for its plastic bottles by funding CuRe Technology – a recycling start-up which seeks to provide a new lease of life for difficult to recycle plastic polyester waste.

The funding from CCEP, through its innovation investment fund, CCEP Ventures, will enable CuRe to accelerate its ‘polyester rejuvenation’ technology from pilot plant to commercial readiness. Once the technology is commercialised, CCEP will receive the majority of the output from a CuRe-licensed, new-build plant.

Once operational, CuRe has the potential to support CCEP’s ambition, in partnership with The Coca-Cola Company in Western Europe, to eliminate virgin oil-based PET from its PET bottles within the next decade. This will contribute to removing of a total of over 200,000* tonnes of virgin oil-based PET from CCEP’s packaging portfolio a year and support the transition to a circular economy for PET packaging.

CuRe Technology – a start-up, created and led by a consortium of world-leading recycling innovators and experts led by the Morssinkhof Group and the Cumapol/DuFor Group, with strategic partners DSM-Niaga and NHL Stenden University of Applied Science – will initially apply its end-to-end partial depolymerisation recycling process to transform opaque and difficult to recycle (ODR) food grade PET to high quality recycled PET (rPET) that can be used again for food and drink packaging in one continuous process on the same site.

Towards a Circular Economy

The CuRe funding from CCEP Ventures builds on existing strategic investments by The Coca-Cola Company to explore and support the scaling of ‘enhanced’ full depolymerisation recycling technologies in order to make a circular economy for PET a reality.

Depolymerisation recycling technologies complement existing mechanical polymer recycling processes. They have the potential to upcycle lower grade PET that cannot currently be recycled via mechanical recycling means and is instead currently downcycled, incinerated or sent to landfill. These depolymerisation technologies could play a role in significantly increasing the supply of rPET whilst also accelerating the transition to a circular economy for PET bottles by reducing the reliance on virgin oil-based PET.

The Coca-Cola system in Western Europe is working towards a future source vision for its PET material which will help remove the need for virgin oil-based PET (figurative future sources of PET in Western Europe: 70 % derived from mechanical recycling with 25 % from depolyemrisation recycling and 5 % PET from plant-based renewable sources, all while remaining 100 % recyclable*).

About CuRe Technology

CuRe Technology uses a partial depolymerisation process – shortening the polymer chains just enough to allow the removal of many impurities and to rejuvenate food grade PET to high quality rPET – and can be less energy intensive than full depolymerisation offering lower associated C02 emissions. It’s like pressing a ‘reset’ button to partially break down plastic PET into its component building blocks to produce a high quality rPET. Due to the modularity of the process, the longer term ambition for this technology is to upcycle all polyester waste streams including product to product rejuvenation of carpets and textiles.

Joe Franses, Vice President, Sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners said: “CuRe is an exciting technology start-up with transformational potential developed by an experienced consortium, making it an ideal investment for CCEP Ventures. Our investment in CuRe underlines our commitment to supporting innovations that have the potential to drive growth in our business and our sustainable packaging goals. It also offers us the potential to access vital rPET volume that will help to accelerate delivery of our 100% rPET ambition for our PET bottles.”

As part of their joint Sustainability Action Plan, This is Forward, Coca-Cola European Partners and Coca-Cola in Western Europe have pledged that by 2025, Coca-Cola will: collect a can or bottle for every one it sells and ensure that all its packaging is 100 % recyclable and by 2023 will: ensure that at least 50 % of the content of its PET bottles will come from recycled content, accelerating towards its ambition to use zero oil-based PET in its PET bottles in the future, using instead 100 % recycled or renewable content.

Josse Kunst, Chief Commercial Officer at CuRe Technology said: “Polyester is one of the world’s most reversible plastics and should not go to waste. In the pilot plant phase of the CuRe process, we were supported with a subsidy from the European Union and the three northern provinces of the Netherlands. Now our ambition to create an energy-efficient solution for product to product polyester transformation will be accelerated because of this funding.

The support of CCEP Ventures will enable us to start with opaque and difficult to recycle food grade PET and take the first step towards our ultimate vision of recycling all polyester, again and again.”

*By 2019, CCEP was already using 60,000 tonnes of rPET in its bottle and has committed to using 50% rPET by 2023.

Based on the actual available figures Krones, the world’s leading manufacturer of filling and packaging technology, adjusts its earnings outlook for the fiscal year 2019. The uncertain macroeconomic developments, like the unsolved trade conflict between China and USA, as well as the discussion about the sustainability of PET-Packaging, negatively influence the customers of Krones and their willingness to invest. Nevertheless, the revenue growth of Krones in the first six month of 2019 were still satisfactory. However, the earnings before tax (EBT) for this period will be significantly below the expectations of Krones.

Increased costs and unfavorable product mix burden the profitability

The profitability of Krones is influenced by high costs, in particular the material cost ratio remains on high level. Krones expected, that the weaker economic outlook in other important industries in 2019 would have resulted in a small easing in the increasing of material costs. Also, the additional measures, which are implemented by Krones to reduce the material costs materialize with a delay. Furthermore, the product mix has an unfavorable effect on the earnings for the period January till June 2019. Especially in the second quarter 2019 the sales of products with a high own value added, like machines and lines for the plastic technology, were lower than expected. In the plastic technology Krones offers extensive products and services for the packaging and filling of beverages in plastic containers like PET-bottles. However, the current discussion about the PET-packaging solution will open opportunities for Krones for innovative solutions.

Another important reason for the actual earnings development is the sales growth of the high-margin after sales business (LCS), which were in the first 6 month of 2019 below expectations. This results from the demand of the customer of Krones for some parts of the LCS product and service offering, which were negatively influenced by the macroeconomic uncertainties. In the second half year this LCS business is expected to recover.

Outlook

Krones still expects an unchanged growth target of 3 % in 2019. The EBT margin is planned around 3 % (prior target: around 6 %). For its third target, working capital to revenue, Krones expects an unchanged figure of 26 %.

The board has taken measures in order to counteract the earnings decline. This includes among others a hiring freeze and measures to reduce the material costs. The current global footprint is on track. For example, the new plant in Hungary is according to budget and time schedule. During the second quarter of 2019, Krones will increase its production in Hungary with a positive margin contribution in 2020.

By its global footprint Krones will not only use competitive cost advantages, but also take advantage of regional market opportunities. The closer Krones is to its customers, the better the company can understood customer needs and local requirements.

The strategic measures that Krones has introduced so far, like the price increase and the development of the global footprint are however not sufficient to reach the ambitious targets. Hence, the board is working in additional structural changes in order to strengthen its earning level in the long run. Focus areas are reduction of complexity, an agile reaction to market needs as well as a corporate structure, which serves the customer even better.

Krones keeps its mid term targets. Depending on the macro economic environment and development of Krones markets, the board envisages a year-on-year revenue growth of 3 to 5 % without acquisition effects, an EBT margin of 6 to 8 % and a working capital to revenue ratio of 22 to 24 %.

Krones will publish the interim report as of June 30th of 2019 by 25th of July 2019.

SABIC introduced its LNP ELCRIN iQ portfolio of polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) compounded resins derived from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) to support the circular economy and help reduce plastic waste. By chemically upcycling consumer-discarded PET (primarily single-use water bottles) into higher-value PBT materials with enhanced properties and suitability for more-durable applications, the company is encouraging the use of recycled resins. These products also offer a smaller cradle-to-gate environmental footprint than virgin PBT resin, as measured by Cumulative Energy Demand (CED) and Global Warming Potential (GWP).

Better Properties, Longer Life than PET

SABIC’s LNP ELCRIN iQ compounds and blends are based on upcycled iQ PBT resins, a proprietary SABIC technology. This technology overcomes some of the limitations of mechanical recycling by using chemical processes to depolymerize PET bottles and other PET waste into their precursor chemicals, purify them and then use them to create new PBT resin. The technology can deliver performance and processing benefits such as good chemical resistance, colorability, high flow for faster throughput and flame retardance (FR).

LNP ELCRIN iQ resin is a drop-in solution for virgin PBT and other conventional PBT materials, making it easier for manufacturers to make their products more sustainable. By displacing virgin raw material used to manufacture PBT, LNP™ ELCRIN™ iQ resin has been shown through peer-reviewed life cycle assessment[1] to reduce the energy and carbon footprint of the material by up to 61 percent and 49 percent, respectively. Further, each kilogram of LNP ELCRIN iQ resin uses up to 67 post-consumer PET water bottles (0.5 liter).

The ELCRIN iQ portfolio offers customers multiple options, including glass- and mineral-reinforced grades and non-halogenated FR and UV-resistant formulations. Some of the LNP ELCRIN iQ grades even have the potential to achieve compliance with U.S. Food & Drug Association (FDA) food contact regulations.

Potential applications for these new polymers include durable internal and aesthetic components for consumer electronics, automotive connectors, and housings for medical devices. Such applications can extend the useful life of the original, single-use PET resin, which helps keep the material out of the waste stream for a longer period.

“Consumer-discarded PET bottles lose value and performance properties through conventional mechanical recycling,” said Joshua Chiaw, Global Business Director, LNP, SABIC. “This downcycling process limits the types of applications for which rPET can be used. In contrast, SABIC’s chemical upcycling process helps improve the performance and quality of the final resin product. As a result, these PBT materials are potentially more desirable for durable applications. Overall, LNP ELCRIN iQ materials can help reduce reliance on virgin resin and address industry and consumer demand for greater use of more-sustainable materials.”

“The development of LNP ELCRIN iQ materials is a major step forward for SABIC and illustrates our unyielding commitment to our customers, the global plastics industry, and the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, which we joined as a founding member,” said Frank Kuijpers, General Manager, Corporate Sustainability, SABIC. “Our innovative process for chemical upcycling of single-use PET directly supports the AEPW’s goal of developing new technologies that help minimize waste, make recovering and recycling plastics easier, and create value from all post-use plastics.”

SABIC LNP ELCRIN iQ grades are available worldwide.

[1] The original peer-reviewed life cycle assessment study was completed by SABIC in 2011. The results are being reviewed and updated based on current models, with expected completion and peer-review in 2019.

UPM Raflatac’s Vanish™ PCR with recycled content face and liner a global first for clear film labeling

UPM Raflatac is boldly taking a leap forward in its promise to label a smarter future. Its new sustainable Vanish™ PCR line of ultra-thin clear film labels are now available in the EMEIA region. Featuring 90 percent recycled content face and liners, these “no-label” look labels will allow brand owners to increase their sustainability without sacrificing performance!

More and more iconic global brands are setting ambitious sustainability targets for their packaging materials. Vanish PCR is the only clear-on-clear labeling solution on the market that incorporates recycled content. Suitable for glass, clear PET or metal containers with a functional barrier, these labels are now available worldwide. They are ideal for any brand in the home and personal care, beverage or food segments in need of clear label materials. Best of all, the clarity and performance are equal to any standard clear-on-clear construction.

Loop Industries, Inc., a leading technology innovator in sustainable plastic announced that they have entered into a multi-year supply framework with the Coca-Cola system’s Cross Enterprise Procurement Group (“CEPG”) to supply 100 % recycled and sustainable LoopT PET plastic (“LoopT PET”) from Loop’s joint venture facility with Indorama Ventures Limited in the United States to authorized Coca-Cola bottlers who enter into supply agreements with Loop. Indorama Ventures is a world-class chemicals company and a global integrated leader in PET and fibers serving major customers in diversified end-use markets.

“We are very proud to become a supplier of LoopT branded PET resin to the members of the Coca-Cola system’s Cross Enterprise Procurement Group,” said Daniel Solomita, Founder and CEO of Loop Industries.  “We are especially pleased to be able to assist Coca-Cola’s authorized bottlers as they work to meet their recycled content ambitions.”

“Like all responsible companies, we need to be selective in choosing our packaging materials so that we continue to eliminate waste and work to reduce the environmental impact,” said Ron Lewis, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Coca-Cola European Partners, a bottler member of CEPG. “Investments like this one with Loop Industries support our goal to ensure that at least 50% of the material we use for our PET bottles comes from recycled plastic, and will help us divert more materials from landfills and build a stronger circular plastic economy.”

This arrangement continues the rapid and exciting progress ?being made by Loop as it commercializes its breakthrough depolymerization technology which will help reduce global plastic waste and enable major global brands to meet their sustainability goals. As the demand for sustainable packaging solutions continues to grow, Loop Industries has emerged with transformational technology that allows no and low value plastics to be diverted, recovered and recycled endlessly into new, virgin-quality LoopT PET plastic.

Berlin startup share is the first beverage producer in Germany to sell its water in PET bottles made of 100 % recyclate. With its expertise from the Bottles & Shapes™ consultancy program the KHS group supported the company by helping to design and develop the bottle in a very short time indeed.

The plans are ambitious: in 2019 share wants to fill water into about a million bottles a month made entirely of recycled PET and thus save over 200 metric tons of plastic waste a year, according to the company. For several weeks now the product has been on sale at Germany’s supermarket chain REWE and drug store dm and has caused quite a stir in the media. “It took a long time for the original idea to be implemented,” says Iris Braun, head of Product and Social Projects at share. “Finalizing the technology and obtaining certification are both lengthy processes. Your partners are thus crucial.” Besides the two aforementioned retailers share’s other partners are bottler Mineralbrunnen Allgäuer Alpenwasser and preform manufacturer Plastipack, which is also the world’s biggest converter. KHS Corpoplast was also largely instrumental in the implementation of the project.

Experience from over 4,000 realized bottle designs

The German engineering company supported the startup in several ways, including in the development of the recyclate bottle design, states Marc Eysel, who is responsible for sales in Northern Europe at KHS Corpoplast. “We implemented the development very quickly and worked on a suitable design together,” he says. Thanks to its holistic Bottles & Shapes™ consultancy program the systems supplier was able to contribute to the share project experience drawn from over 4,000 designed bottles. “KHS developed the bottle very quickly for us which was enormously helpful,” says Braun. Eysel states that there were no unusual hurdles or challenges to be overcome through the use of 100 % recyclate. “Manufacture is actually simpler as the material’s darker color makes the preforms easier to heat than PET bottles made of virgin material.” Besides providing advice on the bottle design KHS also helps with production. share’s still and carbonated water is bottled at the Allgäuer Alpenwasser bottling plant in Oberstaufen using KHS technology. The bottles are blown on an InnoPET Blomax stretch blow molder, with no special adaptations to the system necessary, according to Eysel.

Following the market launch of the recyclate bottle, interest is now also growing among other beverage producers, emphasize Braun and Eysel. “A number of bottlers wishing to increase the amount of recycled PET they use have now contacted us,” claims Eysel. “The protection of the environment also plays an important role at KHS. We support this by providing resource-saving plant engineering and also by developing sustainable PET bottles.” share hopes that it has provided the right incentives for more sustainability, states Braun. “In the end it’s the consumer who decides.”

PET beverage bottles already meet the key requirements in the current debate on plastic recycling. Germany’s firmly established recycling system from manufacturing to recycling PET bottles has played a decisive role, placing the German PET market ahead of the EU plastic strategy just published. This eliminates the issue of export restrictions applicable to plastic waste via China in PET bottle disposal.

Photos of PET bottles floating around the oceans have coloured our perception of what’s actually happening in Germany regarding PET bottles according to Dr. Isabell Schmidt, consultant for Environment and Sustainability at the IK Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen, the German Association for Plastics Packaging and Films, and responsible for the PET forum: “PET beverage bottle recycling in Germany is a perfect example of efficient recycling management.”

98 percent of disposable PET bottles are recycled

Almost ninety-nine percent of mandatory PET deposit bottles are collected for recycling in Germany according to the latest study, Aufkommen und Wiederverwertung von PET-Getränkeverpackungen in Deutschland (PET beverage packaging volume and recycling in Germany) published in 2016 by the German Society for Packaging Market Research (GVM); 93.5 % of disposable and reusable bottles collected are recycled – and up to 98 % for disposable deposit bottles. “The disposal bottle deposit in Germany has secured these high quotas,” according to Schmidt. This has proven to be a successful strategy in the fifteen years after its introduction.

Recycling takes priority with PET – 34 % of the recycled material is processed into new PET bottles according to the GVM study. Other users include the film industry (27 %), textile fibre manufacturers (23 %) and other applications such as tape and cleaning agent container production (16 %). Eighty percent is recycled within Germany, and the rest is mostly exported to destinations near Germany’s borders. PET material exports to China have seen a steady decrease, so restrictions on plastic waste exports from Germany to China only apply to a limited extent in the German PET industry.

Extensive recycling capacity already available

More to the point, separate waste collection has kept the European recycling industry growing in recent years, especially with regard to the recycling capacity available for PET. “PET is a high-demand recycled material,” says Schmidt. Further investment in developing the sorting and recycling infrastructure – a key requirement in the new EU-plastic strategy – had already been in the works by the time the German Packaging Act was passed at federal level in 2017. PET packaging from the recycling bag or bin should see even more recycling as a result.

The German PET industry has been practising cooperation along the entire value-added chain for years as now required by the EU Plastics Strategy. Founded in 2014, the RAL quality-control association for PET beverage packaging has seen manufacturers, bottlers and recyclers working together on closed recycling loops. The industry promotes processing recycled PET into new beverage bottles – “Bottle-to-bottle recycling is one of the most important topics in sustainable use of recycled PET,” according to Schmidt. The quality-control association is mainly committed to increasing the amounts of recycled materials used in new packaging.

CARBIOS, an innovative green chemistry company specializing in enzymatic bioprocesses applied to plastic and textile polymers, and TechnipFMC announced the launch of a project for the industrial development of CARBIOS PET enzymatic recycling process. This innovation will allow to produce virgin PET from plastic waste. This contract covers assistance to CARBIOS for the scale up of its process to ensure industrial competitiveness.

CARBIOS’ proprietary innovation provides an industrial solution to fulfill sustainable development requirements of PET production processes. The global market of PET records a 4 % to 5 %[1] annual growth and represents a world production of 64 million tons each year[2] (eq. $70 billion), split between one third of plastics and two thirds of fibers. In 10 years’ time, the annual production of this market is expected to reach 100 million tons (eq. $110 billion).

This process has been developed for the recycling of PET plastics, namely bottles, films and packaging. It enables to overcome constraints and limits of current recycling processes by the treatment of all kind of plastics containing PET (transparent, coloured, opaque and complex), and by the recovery of high-performance virgin PET directly from plastic waste. For the first time, a biological process paves the way to infinite recycling of PET following circular economy principles.

CARBIOS and TechnipFMC, world-leading Company in the fields of energy, chemistry and bio-sourced industries, signed this contract to transpose CARBIOS’ process from the laboratory to the pilot scale. This assistance will further aim at supporting the development of the project and define the bases of the industrial process. Through this contract, CARBIOS will benefit from TechnipFMC industrial know-how in bioprocess engineering and from the expertise of its German affiliate Technip Zimmer, in PET polymerization technologies.

Alain François, General Manager of TechnipFMC Operating Center in Lyon, notably in charge of the projects for chemical and bio-sourced industries, commented: “We are delighted to work with CARBIOS on this enzymatic recycling process that represents a true revolution in the world of PET. We have gained a solid experience in process engineering and we are very enthusiastic at the idea to assist CARBIOS in shaping the industrialization of this innovation. It’s a premiere in the world of green chemistry to which we can bring our expertise and know-how in the fields of process industrialization, engineering and project management.”

[1] Source: Smithers Pira in 2014, Icis in 2009 and Pira International in 2012

[2] Source: SRI Consulting in 2010, ICIS in 2009, Samsung in 2010, Tecnon in 2013 and IHS in 2014