News & Updates

Magnum joins Unilever’s circularity charge with recycled tub rollouts

With the assistance of chemicals company SABIC, Unilever will introduce its Magnum ice cream pints range in new tubs and lids made with fully recyclable and recycled polypropylene plastic (rPP). This follows an initial pilot phase in Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain last year. This year, more than 7 million rPP Magnum tubs and lids will be introduced across other European countries. From 2021 onward, the new packs will be rolled out globally.

As of last May, Unilever set a broader company goal to halve its virgin plastic use by 2025. Reducing its total use of plastic by more than 100,000 tons demands a “fundamental rethink” in Unilever’s approach to packaging and products, a company spokesperson previously shared with PackagingInsights.

“Through this new approach, we hope to lead the food and refreshment industry toward a more [environmentally] sustainable future, paving the way to a circular economy. These days, consumers – rightly – expect all packaging to be sustainable. By keeping our plastic material in the loop, we are contributing to a healthier planet and preventing plastic pollution,” says Julien Barraux, Global Vice President for Magnum.

“With more in-home consumption due to COVID-19, the introduction of these tubs and their reduced impact on the environment becomes even more relevant as the world prepares for a new future,” he continues. 

New technology for new needs
Unilever indicates that the rPP used in Magnum is not obtained by traditional mechanical recycling, as this is “not suitable” for food contact packaging. “We use a recycling process that transforms the plastic waste into resin with the same characteristics as virgin food-grade resin,” the company underscores.

“This new technology allows us to recycle low quality, mixed plastic waste that would otherwise most likely be destined for incineration or landfill. It is not currently possible to produce food-grade rPP with any other form of recycling system,” Unilever adds.

Unilever has already tinkered with circular solutions in the ice cream sector. In March, Stora Enso packaged Unilever Finland’s Ingman ice cream in its Performa Cream 1 L paperboard cartons. Replacing standard PE coating, Stora Enso’s plant-based PE Green barrier coating will help Unilever reduce its use of fossil-based materials and reduce waste. 

Last August, Unilever relaunched its branded Carte d’Or ice cream in compostable paperboard packaging by Stora Enso. The container is made from certified renewable fiber, sporting a biodegradable barrier coating. After use, it can be either recycled or composted in industrial composting.

“Plastic is a valuable material. It is crucial for the safe and efficient distribution of products, and it has a lower carbon footprint than many alternative materials. [Therefore], it has its place. That place is inside the circular economy – where it is reused, recycled or composted and kept in a loop to stop it from ever finding its way into the environment,” Unilever concludes.

News & Updates

Are oxo-biodegradable plastics bad for the environment?

Packaging Gateway looks into what oxo-biodegradable plastics are, whether they’re bad for the environment, and the current debates surrounding the material.

Oxo-biodegradable Plastics Association (OPA) chairman Michael Stephen has said that he was disinvited to the upcoming ‘Plastic Free World Conference & Expo’ in Berlin due to his views on oxo-biodegradable plastics.

Stephen told news source PlasticsToday: “There is a campaign against oxo-biodegradable plastics promoted by the bio-based plastics industry, on which they must by now have spent millions of dollars. They are obviously not doing this to protect the environment but to damage their competitors.”

“One of their tactics is to mislead people into thinking that oxo-biodegradable plastic is the same as oxo-degradable plastic when they know it is not. They know that oxo-degradable plastic creates persistent microplastics and that oxo-biodegradable plastic does not.”

Critics of the material say that the plastic does not biodegrade but breaks into microplastics which are then released into the environment and cause significant harm, especially to ocean life.

Defenders of oxo-biodegradable plastics, however, claim that it degrades significantly faster than that of other plastics. UK-based plastics manufacturer Symphony Environmental said: “There are some scientists who are not expert in oxo-biodegradable technology and there are mischievous individuals or companies who are spreading misinformation because they wish to give their own product an advantage in the marketplace that it does not deserve on merit.”

Packaging Gateway looks into what oxo-biodegradable plastics are and the debates surrounding the material.

Oxo-biodegradable vs. biodegradable

Biodegradable means that the material can decompose. It is an end-of-life option that uses microorganisms or bacteria in disposal environments, such as in compost, to decompose plastic and avoid pollution.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), non-biodegradable plastic used for plastic bags will take 20 years to decompose, plastic straws 200 years, plastic rings 400 years, and water bottles 450 years.

Symphony Environmental says that oxo-biodegradable material converts plastic products into biodegradable material through oxidation.

On its website, Symphony Environmental said: “Oxo-biodegradable plastic degrades and biodegrades in the open environment in the same way as nature’s wastes, only quicker. What’s more, it does so without leaving any toxic residues or fragments of plastic behind.”

However, according to Reaven Services founder and packaging expert Abhishek Moon, oxo-biodegradable plastics use metal salts to start the degradation process, resulting in small plastic fragments.

Symphony’s Michael Stephen, however, told Packaging Gateway that this is not true: “The metal salts accelerate the natural process of oxidation but this does not create plastic fragments – it creates low molecular weight oligomers which can be digested by microbes and are not fragments of plastic.”

Moon said: “Further degradation [of oxo-biodegradable plastic] depends on living organisms and bacteria. Products using this plastic typically don’t break down fully in normal landfills. This may be due [to] a lack of oxygen. Also, as another negative, some oxo-biodegradable plastics use cobalt and carry the risk of further environmental pollution.”

In response to this, Stephen told Packaging Gateway: “But oxo-biodegradable technology is not intended to promote biodegradation in landfill, because if plastic is in landfill it has already been responsibly disposed of. Furthermore, biodegradation in anaerobic conditions in landfill would generate methane – a powerful greenhouse gas.”

Moon also said: “[Oxo-biodegradable plastics] are made by incorporation of specific additives into traditional plastics such as Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polystyrene (PS), Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) and sometimes also Polyvinylchloride (PVC) at the moment of conversion into final products. The additives are based on chemical catalysts, containing transition metals such as cobalt, manganese, iron, etc., which cause fragmentation as a result of chemical oxidation of the plastics’ polymer chains triggered by UV irradiation or heat exposure.”

Oxo-biodegradable vs. oxo-degradable

Oxo plastics, or oxo-degradable plastics, use additives to accelerate the material’s fragmentation into small pieces. Over time, these fragments become microplastics. There is, however, some confusion over the differences between oxo-degradable and oxo-biodegradable.

Symphony Environmental says that oxo-biodegradable plastic technology facilitates biodegradation of plastics in the air or seawater by bacteria and without causing any toxicity.

In November 2017, The Ellen MacArthur Foundation released a report calling for the ban of oxo-degradable plastic packaging, with signatories including M&S, PepsiCo, Unilever, and WWF. This report was criticised by the OPA for being inaccurate, arguing that many of the signatories were promoting bioplastic technology.

In March 2019, the European Parliament approved a law that would ban single-use plastics by 2021, including oxo-degradable plastics. The Oxo-Biodegradable Plastics Federation (OBPF) criticised that the Directive did not make a clear distinction between oxo-degradable and oxo-biodegradable.

OBPF chairman Gary Ogden told PlasticsToday: “What we really have a problem with is that the Single-Use Plastics Directive says ‘oxo-degradable’ and by default, it means ‘oxo-biodegradable’ but they won’t say it.”

BBIA calls for oxo-degradable ban in the UK

Last month, the Bio-based and Biodegradable Industries Association (BBIA) alongside other associations wrote an open letter to the UK Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

In the letter, the association called for a “total ban on the use, sale and distribution in the UK of conventional non-biodegradable plastics containing additives, which are meant to accelerate the fragmentation of plastics into microplastics. Such plastics are variously known as ‘oxo-degradable’, ‘oxo-biodegradable’, ‘oxo-fragmentable’, ‘bio-assimilable’, but the definitions are not exhaustive.”

Signatories of the letter included BBIA, Greenpeace, A Plastic Planet, and five more organisations.

Symphony Environmental responded to this open letter, claiming that the BBIA had ulterior motives. It said: “The BBIA has the word British in its name but it is the UK trade association for the bio-based plastics industry, which comprises predominantly German and Italian companies, and it is important to ask why they have assembled this consortium against oxo-biodegradable plastic.

“This needs to be understood as part of a concerted lobbying and PR campaign over nearly 20 years by the bio-based plastics industry, upon which they must by now have spent millions of Euros. They are obviously not spending this money and making all this effort to protect the environment – they are doing it because they – mistakenly- see oxo-biodegradable plastic as a threat to their market share. Their actions are fundamentally anti-competitive and are designed to stifle a competing technology.

“Worse still – if they succeed they will have deprived policymakers of a technology which could be used to deal with plastic which has escaped into the open environment, from which it cannot be collected for recycling, composting, or anything else.”
News & Updates

EU introduces plastic waste tax as part of Covid-19 recovery plan

EU leaders have introduced a levy on plastic waste starting January 2021 which will contribute towards the EU’s €750bn Covid-19 recovery package and its overall €1tn 2021 to 2027 budget.

The levy will see non-recycled plastic packaging waste calculated at a call rate of €0.80 per kilogram. The document announcing the plastic waste tax does not specify whether the income generated from the levy is categorised as a new tax.

The document from the General Secretariat of the Council to Delegations said: “As a first step, a new resource will be introduced and apply as of 1 January 2021 composed of a share of revenues from a national contribution calculated on the weight of non-recycled plastic packaging waste with a call rate of EUR 0.80 per kilogram with a mechanism to avoid excessively regressive impact on national contributes.”

Response from governmental officials

German state secretary for the environment Jochen Flasbarth said: “The agreement contains clever new instruments that will help us to make Europe more environmentally friendly. The new plastic levy is a strong motivation for member states to massively expand their recycling systems. It will depend on a concrete design that it is as unbureaucratic as possible and leads to less plastic waste.”

German federal environment minister Svenja Schulze said: “With this agreement, the EU is demonstrating its ability to act. For climate protection, the agreement provides a good basis on which we can build on in further legislation. There has never been so much climate protection in an EU budget. Europe will emerge from [Covid-19] stronger and more climate-friendly than when it came in.”

Response from experts in the industry

Online environmental activist Planet Shine founder and sustainable business advisor Rachel McClelland told Packaging Gateway: “This is a positive move if it begins to shift the market but, above all, we urgently need to reduce plastic waste and move towards a global circular economy. I hope that the proposed tax drives behaviour change and encourages industries to analyse their supply chains and rethink their business models throughout Europe and in the UK.”

UK-based recycling expert Vanden Recycling MD David Wilson told Packaging Gateway: “This is an interesting twist on the usual approach of setting a recycling target with punishment for not meeting it. Instead, this is a penalty for the total amount left unrecycled. Questions, of course, remain at this early stage. This tax will be levied on nations and be payable to the EU. What impact that will actually have on recycling behaviours will depend on each nation’s implementation on clawing it back from their individual and business taxpayers.

“These are significant sums too. For example, if the UK was staying in the EU, and assuming it met this year’s recycling target, the cost of the tax on the remaining unrecycled content would be €368M. That’s significantly more than the likely total cost of plastics producer responsibility this year.”

News & Updates

Blue Harvest oysters shift into sugarcane packs

Seafood specialist Blue Harvest has taken steps to ensure its oyster packaging is not adding to the ocean plastic problem, choosing compostable sugarcane pulp-based trays supplied by BioPak.

The number of single-use plastic trays, wrapped in plastic, currently used in Australia to sell oysters runs into the millions, and although Blue Harvest is in the early stages of the product’s launch, this step has the potential to prevent 1.5 tonnes of plastic being used per annum.

Scott Walter, managing director at Blue Harvest, told PKN that the drive to have more sustainable, environment friendly packaging is an imperative for the seafood industry.

“We farm oysters, and a key factor in our success is a clean ocean environment. There’s an inherent hypocrisy in choosing plastic packaging that could, should it end up as pollution, perpetuate a problem that endangers our industry’s livelihood,” Walter said.

Walter relates that Blue Harvest was aware of the BioPak containers being used in the food service sector. “At the start of this journey, we bought a few takeaway containers and conducted our own trials to see if this material would hold up in a refrigerated environment.

“We were pleasantly surprised. The way the sugarcane pulp is pressed in the production of this packaging creates a sufficiently watertight membrane. Our oysters are meant to be consumed within a day or two of purchase, so we don’t need packaging that lasts a very long time,” Walter said.

He added that the new packaging has elevated the presentation of the oysters, typically considered a premium product, a message not conveyed by the previous plastic packaging with shrinkfilm overwrap.

The pack design emulates the shape of the oyster, with individual cavities that help maintain product freshness and quality.

According to BioPak, the packaging supplier, the BioCane sugarcane pulp-based pack is certified home and industrially compostable and the matching PET lid is recyclable. The packs are also sturdy and stackable to simplify storage and service.

The new Blue Harvest oyster packaging is currently rolling out in Woolworths NSW stores and independent seafood retailers around the country.

News & Updates

Global Plastics Alliance announces huge increase in marine litter focus

The Global Plastics Alliance (GPA) has announced a huge increase in the number of projects aimed at comabting marine litter in the decade since its inception.

The GPA, a collaboration among plastic industry associations around the world, said there are 395 marine litter prevention projects have been planned, underway, or completed as of early 2020 – a four-fold increase since 2011.

The projects vary widely, from beach clean ups to expanding waste management capacities, and from global research to awareness and education campaigns.

The six focus areas are education, research, public policy, sharing best practices, plastics recycling/recovery, and plastic pellet containment.

In addition, GPA said the global plastics industry continues to move toward more circular systems where resources are used, reused, and recycled to the greatest extent possible.

A consortium of nearly 40 leading global companies has formed the Alliance to End Plastic Waste.

Many of their efforts will focus on developing the waste management infrastructure to capture and repurpose plastics in parts of the world where most of the trash is leaking into the ocean.

Virginia Janssens, managing director of PlasticsEurope, said: “We need strong partnerships between an interconnected plastics value chain and all stakeholders, be they local, national or global, to solve this problem and develop innovative, sustainable solutions.”

Keith Christman, managing director of plastics markets, American Chemistry Council, added: “Projects to combat marine litter have grown fourfold and we continue growing the number of stakeholders involved.”

Callum Chen, secretary-general, Asia Plastics Forum (APF), said: “Globally, plastics producers continue to partner with public and private partners to effect meaningful actions to address the problem of ocean plastic pollution. In APF, we are also engaging the brand owners, upstream resin producers and downstream fabricators in our respective member countries to jointly tackle the global marine litter issue.”

News & Updates

Covid-19 | No evidence of threat from packaging says WHO

The World Health Organisation has reassured the public stating that it has found no evidence that food packaging poses a coronavirus threat.

In the UK the issue of Covid-19 and food/food packaging was recently raised when nearly 300 members of staff had tested positive for the virus at The Greencore factory, in Northampton.

The company supplies sandwiches to M&S but the products are not believed to put the public at risk of contracting the virus.

Packaging and Covid-19 was last week a topic of discussion on Good Morning Britain. Dr Sarah Jarvis told viewers: “Theoretically, even if something is cooked, if the packaging is made up – and we know that for instance in New Zealand they think that the latest outbreak they have had may have come in on packaging rather than through people – yes, there is a risk.”

In China, it was reported that two cities had found traces of the coronavirus in imported frozen chicken wings from Brazil and on outer packaging of frozen Ecuadorian shrimp.

However, the WHO believes the threat is negligible at worst. It’s head of emergencies programme Mike Ryan, told a briefing in Geneva: “People should not fear food, or food packaging or processing or delivery of food,”

“There is no evidence that food or the food chain is participating in transmission of this virus. And people should feel comfortable and safe.”

WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said China had tested hundreds of thousands of packages and “found very, very few, less than 10” proving positive for the virus.

Those who are still concerned might take the advice of Professor Sally Bloomfield from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She told the BBC that people can either leave products for 72 hours before using them or ‘spray and wipe plastic or glass containers with bleach [diluted as directed on the bottle]’.

News & Updates

Has COVID-19 tipped the packaging scales?

In this article, Paul Foot, partner and patent attorney at European intellectual property firm Withers & Rogers, looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the priorities of the packaging industry.

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing many consumers to re-assess their priorities when it comes to packaging, particularly due to heightened concern about biosafety. Recently, increased public awareness of the importance of environmental protection has helped industries to reduce their reliance on single-use, non-recyclable packaging. However, with the main trend in packaging shifting towards hygiene, is there a risk that some of the progress in sustainability could be undone?

Where manufacturers in other sectors have pivoted in a matter of weeks in response to emergency demands, it seems that COVID-19 failed to spark an immediate wave of innovation in the packaging industry. On the contrary, the ‘quick fix’ has been for many retailers to move back to established ‘single-use’ type packaging for hygiene reasons – for example, in coffee shops, reusable cups have been banned and some retailers are even banning reusable bags – and so demand for such packaging has remained high.

Demand for packaging such as cardboard boxes and packing materials has actually increased to fulfil online delivery orders, which have soared during the pandemic due to the rise of the stay-at-home economy. While demand levels are expected to remain high at least in the short term, it is also becoming clear that consumer preferences have altered and so packaging companies will need to adapt to avoid being overtaken.

Environmental credibility aside, consumers previously assessed the desirability of packaging largely based on appearance. Does it look stylish? Is the branding attractive? Now, with the greater focus on hygiene factors, consumers will be considering how protected a packaged product is, and whether the packaging is germ or virus-free. 

To address these concerns, it’s likely that more emphasis will be placed on designing packaging elements which minimise contact areas, such as dedicated handles and marked zones for use by couriers. Increased importance may also be given to ‘tamper-proof’ packaging to increase consumer confidence that the product contained within is safe or to innovative closures that enable hygienic ‘on-the-go’ consumption. 

The online delivery boom has also created new issues for retailers. With demand for online deliveries expected to remain higher than pre-pandemic levels, packaging innovators have a role to play in helping retailers to maximise vehicle space, at the same time as improving safety. For example, manufacturers could lead the way by innovating a wider range of ‘standardised’ packaging solutions, which can be easily transported and stacked. Alternatively, some innovators may be focused on producing novel packaging designs that can be better manipulated by robotic systems, for use in warehouses and distribution centres.

There is a range of other e-commerce related challenges that packaging innovators can also try to address, such as designs with improved protection for delicate products, designs that enable easier filling at the retailer side, designs that enable a product to be easily returned and designs that give a better customer experience when they open the package. 

As the recovery gets underway, the packaging industry will need to reflect on market changes and adapt to the new normal. As with many businesses, packaging manufacturers have been focused on weathering the storm, but now is the time to re-energise their innovation activity. If anything, the pandemic has opened up many new opportunities.

It seems unlikely that the sustainability trend will go away, so now the challenge for packaging producers will be to balance sustainability with hygiene. Consumers will still want to see the same progress in packaging as before the pandemic – higher use of recycled materials, less ‘unnecessary packaging’, less plastic, improvements in ease of recycling – but it is important that these improvements are not made at the expense of reduced hygiene, as that trend seems to be here to stay, at least for the next few years.

For packaging businesses that are considering adapting their product offering to address these challenges, it’s important to put in place the right strategy to protect their innovations on the way to market. It’s likely that competitors will be undergoing the same thought-process and any novel ideas or improvements could be copied if left unprotected.

Applying for patent protection sooner rather than later is often the right strategy, even if the concept continues to be developed after this point, to account for further changes in the situation and the lasting effects of the pandemic becoming better known.

News & Updates

Coca-Cola reveals recyclable paperboard-based rings for multipack cans

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has today announced the introduction of CanCollar, a paperboard packaging solution, for multipack cans in Spain.

Initially, CCEP will launch the new, PEFC certified recyclable and “sustainably sourced” solution in the Balearic Islands in November 2020 as a replacement for its current Hi-cone product. CanCollar is manufactured via a process that does not require the use of glue or adhesives.

Through collaboration with packaging provider WestRock, the company projects that its new solution will save more than 18 tonnes of plastic annually and has invested €2.6 million in its Barcelona plant in order to support the initiative.

Joe Franses, vice president of sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners, said: “The agreement with WestRock exemplifies our clear commitment to reduce plastic in our secondary packaging.

“By the end of 2020, we will have removed more than 4,000 tonnes of hard to recycle plastic from our secondary packaging in Western Europe. It’s through collaborating on innovative packaging solutions like CanCollar that we are able to do this.”

Dwayne Irvin, vice president of enterprise solutions at WestRock, added: “We are proud of our longstanding partnership with Coca-Cola. For 70 years we have supported Coca-Cola in bringing innovation to global beverage markets. CanCollar is the latest initiative supporting Coca-Cola’s vision to create a World Without Waste.”

News & Updates

Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa expands roll-out of 2L returnable PET bottles to reduce plastic waste after successful Eastern Cape pilot

Following the successful roll-out of its Eastern Cape pilot project in November 2019, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) is expanding the roll-out of the 2L returnable PET bottles across Northern Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, offering consumers value for money, while including them as an important part of the recycling value chain.

“The consumer response to the new 2L returnable PET bottles has been overwhelmingly positive. We have seen customers in the Eastern Cape opting to switch over to purchasing the returnable 2L bottles and returning them after consumption. After each bottle reaches the end of its useable lifecycle, it joins a regional manufacturing value chain which ultimately means less pollution in the environment,” says Velaphi Ratshefola, Managing Director of CCBSA.

The returnable PET bottles are identifiable by a new paper label, with ‘RETURNABLE’ appearing in green on the front of the bottle. The roll-out constitutes a significant investment by CCBSA in the new packaging line to ensure that the PET bottles comply with global standards for design, hygiene and safety for PET packaging. 

“We said that we would assess the way forward after the 2L returnable pilot project and we are therefore pleased to announce that we are now starting to roll out the new packaging line to Northern Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. From there, we will identify geographies in the rest of the country to continue the expansion over a five-year period,” says Ratshefola.

Returnable PET is part of The Coca-Cola Company’s World Without Waste vision that aims to collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle and can that it sells globally by 2030. This focuses on the entire packaging value chain, from how bottles and cans are designed and made, to how they’re collected, recycled and reused later.  

“We’re committed to increasing recycled material in our packaging and ensuring more packaging is collected and recycled. The roll-out of returnable PET plastic bottles is another way we can support a circular economy in South Africa,” says Ratshefola. 

Once a bottle is returned to Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa, it will go on a looped journey to be cleaned to Coca-Cola’s stringent measures and requirements, then refilled to start its next lifecycle.  When the bottle reaches the end of its useable lifecycle, it joins the recycling value chain and is repurposed into another PET product. 

The recommended retail price for the 2L Coca-Cola Original Taste – Less Sugar beverage is R15, which excludes a R9 deposit. Other brands, like Coca-Cola No Sugar, Sprite and Fanta, are also be available in the new 2L returnable PET plastic bottle at a recommended retail price of R12 excluding the R9 deposit. This means a saving of around R7 per bottle, depending on where a customer purchases their bottle.

According to the PET Recycling Company (PETCO), 62% of PET bottles were collected after use and recycled in South Africa last year. The Coca-Cola system in South Africa currently uses an average of 8% recycled content in its plastic bottles in South Africa – the more bottles that are collected and recycled, the more recycled content the company can use in its bottles.

News & Updates

Coca-Cola changes Sprite packaging to increase recycling

he Coca-Cola Company in South Africa has stopped the production of Sprite’s iconic green packaging to produce fresh, new clear polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottle packaging.

The transition to clear packaging means that more Sprite bottles can be collected, recycled and reused to make new bottles.

Coca-Cola Southern and East Africa sustainability head David Drew tells Engineering News that Sprite’s new look is part of Coca-Cola’s World Without Waste vision, which is aimed at ensuring the collection and recycling of one bottle or can for each new one that it sells by 2030.

“Although our previous green PET plastic bottles were recyclable, Sprite’s new clear bottle allows for greater recyclability and increases its value to waste collectors and recyclers.

“Clear PET has a wider variety of end-uses, especially for bottle-to-bottle recycling. Removing the colour from Sprite bottles enables the reuse of more of the bottles our bottling partners sell, in the bottles they will make in the future.

“There was also the need to update the iconic Sprite packaging design as well,” he explains.

“Globally and in South Africa, the Coca-Cola system has set an ambitious World Without Waste target of collecting and recycling 100% of our packaging and to manufacture our bottles using at least 50% recycled PET plastic by 2030,” acclaims Drew.

Further to changing its own packaging, the company is working with both the formal and informal recycling industry to bolster its recycling efforts.

“As one of the founding members of the PET Recycling Company, we will continue to work with organisations in the food and beverage sector to help grow collection and recycling rates.  We also share best practice and innovation from a technology and production point of view. 

“Furthermore, together with our bottling partners, we are working with informal collectors to develop models for waste reclaimer integration in municipal collection,” informs Drew.

In terms of managing the transition, Drew indicates that, as with any change to packaging, it is necessary to ensure consumers can still easily identify the variant or flavour of the product.  

“We’ve done our market research and tested various packaging designs to ensure that we have designed distinct labels and closures so that consumers are able to easily distinguish between the different Sprite variants and flavours,” he says.

The new look Sprite PET plastic bottles are already available on the shelf and the company expects that the previous green PET bottles will be phased out over the next few months.

Sprite is and will continue to be available and sold in green glass bottles. In time, the glass packaging will also migrate to a clear bottle. Given that most of the company’s glass bottles are returnable and can be reused many times, the transition from green to clear will be much more gradual, informs Drew.

The launch of the new packaging will be supported in store for now and then online and through other media platforms such as radio and television, says Drew.

“The realities of Covid-19 will determine how quickly our communications will be in the market as we practice caution and prioritise the safety of staff and agencies during this period,” he notes.

The company does not anticipate any push back from customers with regard to the new packaging, says Drew, as the company believes they support the drive towards sustainability initiatives.