Evian currently uses 25% recycled plastic in its bottles and wants to shift to a circular model where it does not need to use any virgin plastics.
It will do this by partnering with Loop Industries – a company that has developed new technology for recycling plastic to create a ‘continuous loop for recycling at a large scale’.
The brand is also calling on all industries to create “a sustainable, large-scale change in the way we make, use and recycle plastics.”
Creating an rPET bottle
Sourced in the French Alps and sold in more than 140 countries, evian has already set out targets to become Danone’s first global carbon neutral brand by 2020 (having achieved this status in the US and Canada last year).
Today it has announced a set of targets to make its packaging 100% circular, which will be achieved by redesigning packaging and accelerating recycling partnerships.
“This will enable plastic to evolve from potential waste to become a valuable resource”
Evian is partnering with Loop Industries, a North American company that has developed new technology that breaks down plastic into its base building blocks, with these monomers then repolymerized to create virgin-quality PET plastic that is FDA approved for use in food-grade packaging.
Cost and other challenges
One of the key challenges in using rPET is the availability of suitable rPET, and so evian’s initiative will also include creating a reliable supply of high-quality recycled plastic.
“To achieve our aim of 100% recycled plastic in our bottles, we anticipate the need for systemic change within the plastics ecosystem, and we need collaboration across industries and beyond to realize this,” a spokesperson told this publication.
“Currently there is not enough high-quality recycled plastic available at scale quantities in the market.
"Loop Industries, one of evian’s technology partners, has developed a technology that enables a continuous loop for recycling at large scale, transforming all types of PET plastic waste into the high-quality plastic required by evian.
“Our ambition will also require consumer support too, to increase recycling rates.
"We are therefore also partnering with Mission 2020 [a global initiative tackling climate change] and Vice Impact [an advocacy platform] to drive consumer awareness and knowledge about circularity as a solution to take action and drive progress.”
Creating a shift change in the industry will also address cost implications of using 100% rPET bottles, evian added.
“rPET is generally more expensive; nevertheless, with increased rPET supply we would like to see overall recycled material costs decrease, making usage more accessible and widely used.”
Boosting recycling rates
evian's bottles are recyclable, and as part of its efforts to boost wider recycling rates it is collaborating with industry partners such as Veolia, as well as consumers, to increase collection and recycling rates of waste plastic bottles.
“evian is determined to leverage its global voice to drive consumer behavior change around plastic waste and recycling. evian #herothezero initiative will start to drive the awareness of the need for change in early 2018, raising consumer knowledge about circularity as a way to change how we think about plastic usage and waste.”
The Danone Ecosystem Fund is also supporting long-term, locally led collection initiatives to reduce the among of plastic waste in the environment, such as taking part in a research mission with The Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch non-profit start-up that has developed scalable advanced technologies to help remove plastic from oceans.
evian's roadmap for becoming an 100% circular brand will be defined with help from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Changing plastic bottles: rPET, bio-based material, and degradable plastics
Danone and Nestle waters, the world’s two largest bottled water companies, are partnering with California start-up Origin Materials to develop and launch at commercial scale a PET plastic made from bio-based material (such as used cardboard and sawdust).
Suntory uses 30% plant-derived material for its mineral water Tennensui, and is investing in the development of a 100% bio-based bottle through Anellotech.
Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle, used with some brands such as Honest Tea, uses up to 30% plant-based PET.
In Europe, Coca-Cola will use 50% rPET in its bottles by 2025 (up from 21% in 2016). Coca-Cola’s innocent smoothie brand tried using 100% rPET in 2007 but reduced this to its current level of 35% rPET citing quality issues.
Nestle’s resource natural spring water brand uses an 100% rPET bottle in the US.
Waiakea Hawaiian Volcanic Water will start using a ‘fully degradable’ bottle this year, using an additive that reduces the lifespan of plastic from around 1,500 to 15 years.