Social enterprise brand share is the first manufacturer in Germany to offer its mineral water made from bottles made from 100% recycled plastics.

At the beginning of this year, the company launched the mineral water bottle on the shelves of retailers dm and REWE. According to studies, Germans produce 37 kilograms of plastic waste per person per year, a figure that is set to grow even further. Even in a country with a strong recycling culture as Germany, half of plastics waste is burnt rather than being transformed into a new raw material, which makes using recycled plastics even more crucial.

„People are becoming increasingly aware of the plastics problem, as they come across waste in their everyday life or when holidaying at the beach. However, most beverages are still being sold in bottles made from crude oil which ends up in nature. The share bottle closes the loop,“ says founder Dr. Sebastian Stricker.

“It was a challenge to get everybody on board, from the preform manufacturer to bottlers and retailers. There was a mix of scepticism and enthusiasm for the cause, and at the end, everybody was convinced that they were doing the right thing,” share’s product manager Iris Braun tells Packaging Europe.

An efficient recycling process involving a special way of preparation and sorting with high speed laser technology allows efficient recycling of plastic bottles and results in high quality recyclate. The plastics gained from this process is no different in touch and smell from bottles currently available on the market. 

“share‘s previous bottle already featured a slight blue hue. This goes very well with the slight grey hue that is a characteristic of plastics recyclate,” Iris Braun adds. 

A niche product with potential

Well known premium brands are hesitant about the change to 100% recycled plastics and currently only use around 25 5o 50 per cent recycled materials in their bottles. But potentially around 300.000 tons of plastic waste could be saved by a switch to 100% recyclate – around 10 per cent of the entire plastic waste in Germany. 

The use of recycled plastics has not yet been established in the mass market for a range of reasons, as Mr. Stricker explains.

“It is complex to change the entire production. Bottle manufacturing becomes more expensive and the margins become smaller. It requires investment and a willingness to pay more – both on the part of the manufacturer and the consumer. In addition, current production capacity isn’t always sufficient, not least due the low demand. As a relatively young brand we are able to change that by taking the first step and boosting demand – thereby increasing production capacity and hopefully make prices drop.” 

Within the next twelve months, the aim is to also provide closures from 100% recycled plastics as soon as food contact clearance has been achieved. 

share’s recycled bottles are available on the shelves of dm and REWE. Both retailers are supportive of a re-think within the industry. „By using recyclate we can take an important step in the direction of sustainable packaging management and therefore clearly increase the share of recycled plastics used in the long term,“ says Sebastian Bayer, marketing and procurement manager at dm. „We are proud of our cooperation with share. 100% recyclate, from our point of view, is one of the major innovations in the German mineral water market in recent years, and a real opportunity in the fight against plastic waste,”  adds Lionel Souque, chairman of the board at REWE Group.