Bottled water and soft drinks producers drive plan to eliminate plastic packaging waste from their sectors by 2030

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and a group of leading bottled water and soft drink manufacturers have launched a report today at the House of Commons, which sets out an ambitious roadmap to eliminate plastic packaging waste from the bottled water and soft drinks value chain by 2030.

The report, the first of its kind, is set out to enable and encourage other industries and countries to create their own systemic roadmaps and visions to eliminate plastic packaging waste.

The report, developed collaboratively by the industry and its stakeholders, sets out key actions and aspirations to make eliminating plastic packaging waste a strategic priority. These include: 

  • Producers to commit to all bottled water and soft drinks packaging to be made from 100 per cent recyclable or reusable material and aim for at least 70 per cent recycled material by 2025.
  • Producers and Government to investigate the optimal material of the future for bottled water and soft drinks that eliminates plastic waste while ensuring the lowest overall environmental impact.
  • Producers and Government to undertake research into consumer behaviour to support recycling ambitions towards achieving a ‘circular economy’ for bottled water and soft drinks packaging.
  • Government to create a consistent nationwide recycling system, and reinvest revenue from new policies into UK recycling, sorting and reprocessing capacity.

The roadmap provides a clear timeline for working towards the ultimate goal of transitioning to a more circular economy for plastic soft drinks packaging, where plastic packaging use is reduced wherever possible and otherwise is reusable or recovered and recycled.

The report was developed with input from the Future of Plastic Packaging Working Group: Lucozade Ribena Suntory and members of the Natural Hydration Council: Brecon Mineral Waters, Danone Waters (UK and Ireland), Harrogate Water Brands, Highland Spring Group, Montgomery Waters, Nestlé Waters UK, Shepley Spring and Wenlock Spring.

Eliot Whittington, Director of Policy at CISL said:

“It is clear that the bottled water and soft drinks sectors are showing commitment to finding a solution to the plastic packaging waste problem and are grappling with the real challenges of doing so. The report we have released today with leading companies from these sectors aims to provide a clear, strategic and ambitious roadmap for transformation of their value chain in the UK, enabling real impact and action on this problem and spurring the sector forward into a new way of operating. We are now seeking to convene working groups to deliver on the four pathways set out in the report and encourage organisations and experts interested in eliminating plastic packaging waste to join them.”

Industry leaders who support these ambitions are calling for collective action from business, government and society to create a transformational shift to address the challenges presented by plastic packaging waste.

Kinvara Carey, General Manager at the Natural Hydration Council added:

“At the end of last year our members along with Lucozade Ribena Suntory, commissioned CISL to help us create a collaborative roadmap to eliminate plastic packaging waste from the bottled water and soft drinks sectors. Our members are committed to achieving these important goals, and finding a solution to the problem of plastic packaging waste. It will be challenging but it is our duty as responsible organisations to deliver our products to people in the most sustainable way possible. It needs to be easy for people to dispose of all packaging responsibly, with the confidence it will not go to waste.”

The report is a welcome addition to previous industry commitments on reducing plastic waste and has been supported by sustainability experts both from within and outside industry.

Tony Juniper, Executive Director for Advocacy and Campaigns, WWF-UK said:

“If we are to protect our environment from the effects of plastic waste we must make an urgent transition to a circular, closed loop economy. Everyone has a part to play and it will require collaboration right across the board, from the designers of plastic packaging to retailers, to consumers, waste management companies and policy makers. It is great that this group of soft drinks companies have set out their willingness to act and if everyone else rises to the challenge too, especially governments, then solutions can quickly follow, reducing the appalling impacts plastic waste causes on wildlife, including whales, dolphins, turtles and seabirds.”

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