EU Directive on Single-Use Plastics (SUP) has recently entered into force; a measure intended to revolutionise plastic market with a significant bearing, in particular on PET containers.
The main purpose of that act is to prevent and to reduce the impact of certain plastic products on the environment, especially the marine environment, and human health, and to support the transition to a circular economy with new business models and innovative, sustainable products and materials.
SUP Directive impact on PET containers
PET bottles and containers, considering the amount of these products that enters into the oceans every year, are undergoing a revolution in terms of production.
Particularly, two are the significant dates:
- By 2025, PET bottles shall contain a minimum of 25% recycled material,
- By 2030 the content of recycled PET will have to increase to 30%.
No less important is the issue relating to caps and lids of bottles and containers; at the latest five years after the entry into force of the Directive, these parts should become inseparable from its container, in such a way as to prevent dispersal in the environment.
The European legislator has then foreseen, for PET producers, environmental information and awareness activities, intended for consumers in their use of products.
Plastic producers and stakeholders opinion
As preparing this legislative proposal, PET and other plastic materials packaging companies were consulted, plus additional stakeholders, and comprehensive impact assessments were carried out.
In the public consultation, held between December 2017 and February 2018, 95% of participants considered necessary and urgent to tackle single-use plastics issue, and 79% to intervene at EU level for effective measures.
Even the 70% of producers and 80% of brands required necessary and urgent intervention. 72% of participants said they reduced use of plastic carrier bags, of which 38% did so last year.
Big players moves in the PET market
Even before the Directive entered into force, there are many PET market giants who launched sustainability policies, anticipating the European legislative measures.
Nestlé, for example, presented its strategy to conquer a future free from pollution, announcing a series of specific actions in line with the commitments already assumed in April 2018, aiming to make its packaging 100% recyclable or reusable by 2025.
For the Swiss-based multinational, facing a complex matter as the such as plastics pollution, requires a holistic and well orchestrated effort.
To achieve this goal, Nestlé has announced several concrete steps to pave the way for alternative materials, contributing to a future free from waste by stimulating a change of pace and behavior.
Globally, between 2020 and 2025 Nestlé will remove all plastics used for product packaging, which can no longer be recycled or are difficult to treat.
In doing so, Nestle is introducing alternative packaging materials in its global portfolio of products, and is tightening its partnership with real pioneers on innovative and cutting edge packaging systems: from February 2019, the company shall begin to remove all plastic straws from its products, using alternative materials and innovative designs to reduce waste.
For Nestlé water bottles, the use of recycled PET will reach 35% by 2025 worldwide and 50% in the United States, with a specific focus on the iconic brand Poland Spring.
More, by the end of 2025, Nestlé Waters shall increase up to 50% recycled PET percentages of European brands Acqua Panna, Levissima, Buxton and Henniez.
In addition, the company began a collaboration with PureCycle Technologies for food grade recycled polypropylene (PP) production.
PureCycle Technologies is currently making cutting-edge recycling technologies able remove colors, odors and contaminants from plastic waste transforming them into a virgin resin.
Danone - Evian
Also Evian, historic brand of Danone Group, has joined a program allowing to recycle “indefinitely” their packaging materials, thus helping to reduce the proliferation of plastic waste.
Every year, 1.8 billion water bottles produced at Evian-les-Bains (Haute-Savoie, France) are distributed on the global market.
Evian branded bottles currently contain only 25% of recycled PET. To be fully ecological, the flagship brand of Danone Group decided to shift gears by announcing that all its plastic bottles will be generated with 100% recycled content by 2025.
Ecover is a Belgian company, owned by S. C. Johnson & Son, which produces ecological cleaning products.
The company has tested new caps made for half in recycled polypropylene, for diverse products, a total of 200,000 bottles.
Following these extensive tests, the company has determined that a 50% recycled polypropylene cap meets all its standards.
Definitely a positive result, although Ecover has already announced that it will switch to caps made from 100% recycled plastic as soon as technology will make it possible.