The German researchers said the life-cycle analysis revealed that the 1.5 litre non-returnable PET bottle has made significant strides on various environmental criteria.
Comparing the results to the last life cycle assessment carried out by the Association of German Wells in 2008, IFEU said improvements between 30 and 55 per cent were registered with respect to environmental measures such as climate change, fossil resource consumption, summer smog, and acidification.
“There are plenty of reasons for this, and they are found along the entire value chain”, said Andreas Detzel, project manager at IFEU.
The research institute summarised the most important changes as bottle weight reduction (-14%), the increased use of recycled material (25-35% recycled PET), the decrease in distribution distances (-38%), and the reduced energy and process water consumption (-30% and -36%).
Considered together these improvements mean that disposable PET bottles can invariably boast “ecological equivalence” with multi use glass, according to the IFEU. And as for the PET returnable bottle, the research institute said that in total it has now reached a higher score than any other examined packaging system.
In an effort to explain the improvements Helmuth von Grolman, managing director of the German Dialogue Institute, which liaised with stakeholders on the research said: “The packaging directive and the mandatory deposit have strongly contributed to the closing of loops with regards to single use PET bottles and therefore the saving of resources.
“The high investments in a deposit system for single use PET bottles have been worth their while.”