European Water Producers Make Circular Economy Pledge

The European Federation of Bottled Waters (EFBW) has announced four industry-wide pledges that aim to increase the collection of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles and the use of recycled PET. This will accelerate the shift towards a more circular economy, it says.

All drink containers used by the industry, be it PET, glass or aluminium, are recyclable. However, the level of collection of PET drink bottles varies substantially across the EU.

Some EU member states collect more than 90% of PET bottles while others collect less than 20%, meaning our packaging today is part of the unacceptable phenomenon of littering alongside other discarded items.

“PET drink bottles already achieve the highest recycling rate of any plastic packaging material in the EU. But even one bottle ending up as litter is one too many.”

Europe’s producers of natural mineral and spring water believe that PET bottles must be given a second life. Therefore, EFBW is announcing the following pledges towards 2025:

  • Collect 90% of all PET bottles by 2025, as an EU average. Ensuring PET bottles are collected means that they can be used to produce new bottles or for other products. EFBW will be a driving force alongside all actors involved in the waste management process;
  • Collaborate with the recycling industry to use at least 25% recycled PET (rPET) in its water bottles by 2025, as an EU average. To increase the use of rPET into new bottles, natural mineral and spring water producers require a consistent supply of high-quality recycled material;
  • Innovate and invest further in eco-design and research on non-fossil based plastic materials. The bottled water industry has always had sustainability at its heart, and is continuously investing in packaging R&D. This includes optimising its packaging design through light-weighting, eco-innovation, and research on plastics from renewable origin;
  • Engage with consumers who play a key role in preventing littering. The industry will support initiatives which encourage the proper sorting and disposal of packaging.

Speaking about the pledges, EFBW President Jean-Pierre Deffis, noted that “Building on our longstanding sustainable approach to resource management, we are committed to achieving these industry-wide actions. PET drink bottles already achieve the highest recycling rate of any plastic packaging material in the EU. But even one bottle ending up as litter is one too many.”

He added: “It will take a concerted, coordinated effort from many different value-chain actors to drive positive change. EFBW’s members are stepping up to lead the way.”

To ensure that its members can deliver on the new pledges, the EFBW intends to work with all relevant stakeholders, including Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE).

PRE’s President Ton Emans welcomed EFBW’s initiative: “Over the last years the bottled water industry has been a front runner in PET circularity. Recyclers are eager to embark on this new journey. Today PET recyclers do not have enough feedstock to supply the market. The priority is to drastically improve collection and quality sorting.”

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