Britvic to recycle drinks bottles

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Recycling

UK soft drinks group Britvic will begin recycling its glass drinks
bottles, mimicking trends in the premium spirits sector and helping
Britain lurch toward its EU recycling commitments.

Britvic, which will switch from reusing to recycling bottles with Rockware Glass, intends to stop returning empty bottles to depots for washing and refilling by the end of 2008.

The move means on-trade Britvic juice and Pepsi products will come in flashier bottles akin to top spirit drinks, but also remain environmentally friendly because of the closed-loop recycling process.

Nicky Milner, brand manager for Britvic and J20, said: "The lorry journeys to and from depots will be drastically reduced; customers will be able to recycle our bottles alongside other brands; consumers will get a top quality glass bottle every time."

The plan also represents a coup for the recycling push under way across the UK glass industry.

Simon Morgan, of Rockware, told recycling glass used around a fifth less energy than making new glass bottles.

"Glass can be recycled millions of times and it never loses any of its quality.

This [deal with Britvic] means we are using less raw materials, like sandstone, to make new glass bottles, which is obviously beneficial for the environment."

An increase in glass recycling slowed from 10 per cent in 2005 to just 1.8 per cent last year, according to industry body British Glass, casting doubt on the UK's ability to meet its target of recycling 60 per cent of all glass by 2008.

The target is part of the European Commission's Packaging Waste Directive.

Britvic's conversion to recycling will help the cause, but the move reveals an ongoing dilemma for environmental groups over the merits of recycling and reusing.

Reusing is accepted by many as better than recycling, but there is no clear cut answer, according to Michael Esvelt, project manager for the Environmental Information Exchange at Oxford Brookes University.

"It is a paper towels versus hand-dryer issue, all to do with environmental footprinting."

He said it may depend on Britvic's distribution network.

"The only model I have ever seen where reuse was actually good was in a small area."

Where drinks are transported longer distances, recycling may have the edge.

Britvic and Rockware say the switch to recycling will reduce transport while providing better-looking bottles for drinkers.

"Scuffed or dull looking bottles reflect poorly on the brand," said Rod Simmons, Rockware's sales manager for soft drinks.

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