Step-change packaging collection
Aligned with the EU ambition of 90% collection by 2029, we need to collect all our bottles back, so they can be recycled again and again, and so no material goes to litter or waste. We have identified deposit return schemes (DRS), where a proven alternative does not exist, as the most effective way to improve collection rates and reduce litter, provided they are well-designed and run efficiently. As an industry, we must champion their introduction, and expansion, and support legislation on investment and infrastructure development to drive this change.
Ensure bottles can be turned back into bottles
Today a lot of material is downcycled from PET to sheet plastic. We need to ensure that food-grade bottles remain as food-grade PET for future applications. Supporting legislation would help to drive this change.
Increase recycling capacity and capability
If the SUP directive target to collect 90% of bottles is met by 2030, the EU will need to double rPET reprocessing capacity to sort and recycle the tonnage of PET collected. More support is needed for the PET recycling industry through long-term supply agreements with mechanical recycling partners to help them develop further capacity.
Alongside this, we must support improving the capabilities of the recycling industry to convert hard-to-recycle PET waste into high-quality, like-virgin PET. Supporting and funding the scalability of emerging recycling technologies like depolymerisation through investment can help make a low carbon circular economy for PET a reality.
As an industry, we also need to better understand consumer perceptions of the appearance of rPET bottles - which have a slightly greyer tint than current packaging - and the ways in which we can responsibly communicate changes in appearance associated with the use of increased recycled content, and help drive understanding of the sustainability benefits of doing so.
Ultimately, it will take industry-wide collaboration, investment in innovation, and a shift in legislation to achieve a circular economy for PET packaging. We, like others, have a vision that could help us get there. And it starts by understanding that our use of 100% rPET in our bottles today is just one small step in a much bigger industry journey towards plastic packaging circularity.