Container Diversity and Closed Loops For Climate Protection
11/27/2023 Retail Brands Industry Look into Europe Article

Container Diversity and Closed Loops For Climate Protection

Gerolsteiner Brunnen is calling on legislators in Berlin and Brussels not to "destroy" the tried and not to "regulate it to destruction". The beverage producer is also calling for PET recycling systems not to be interrupted.

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Germany's top-selling branded water bottler welcomes the fact that both the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) adopted by the EU Parliament and the amendment to the Packaging Act in Germany aim to avoid unnecessary packaging and conserve resources. However, Gerolsteiner believes that greater sustainability and climate protection are only possible if politicians promote the circular economy "holistically". Specifically, regulations should not restrict the variety of beverage containers and should leave room for opportunities to further optimize each individual packaging offering.

Single-use PET Currently has the Greatest Potential

"Single-use PET currently has the greatest potential. Only promoting reusable packaging is too short-sighted," says Joel Annega, Chairman of the Management Board of Gerolsteiner to Lebensmittelzeitung. Within a year, the proportion of recyclate in our own PET bottles has fallen to 30 percent due to market conditions. The aim now is for the proportion to climb back up to at least 50 percent. With a view to a permanent increase, Annega advocates a "raw material turnaround" that includes secondary raw materials as well as primary resources.

Keeping Cycles Closed

It criticizes the fact that currently more than half (55%) of the plastic recycled from beverage bottles with a deposit PET recycled from beverage bottles is not recycled back into beverage bottles, but into film, textile fibers or non-food containers.

"The primary goal must be to create closed loops at material quality levels," demands the Managing Director. For example, food-safe PET should only be used for products that require this quality. Gerolsteiner sees a regulatory approach to strengthening the bottle-to-bottle cycle in limiting quotas for downcycling applications, for example.

In addition, legislators in Brussels and Berlin could "mobilize" the industries that tap PET from the cycle to set up their own raw material cycles. He also puts forward the idea of banning downcycling. "With a closed loop, single-use PET would come close to the advantages of the reusable system".

According to the company, 30 percent of the beverages sold by the fountain are currently sold in non-returnable PET bottles and 70 percent in returnable bottles made of glass and PET.

With a view to the upcoming EU packaging regulation, Gerolsteiner welcomes the prospect of an EU-wide deposit on disposable bottles. However, this must already take place at the beginning of 2028 "so that sufficient secondary raw materials are available in 2030 when the quotas for recyclate content come into force".