Agthia Group - a food and beverage company that has been operating from Abu Dhabi since 2004 - has 15 ‘healthy living’ brands; which primarily fall under the water, juice, dairy and frozen baked products categories.
The Al Ain water brand, named for the city in the United Arab Emirates, last month debuted the Middle East’s first plant-based water bottle at Gulfood 2020 during UAE Innovation Month. The bottle converts plant sources into a polymer material by fermenting the plant’s sugars.
New packaging technology center
The bottles are specifically made from corn sugars and the caps from fermented sugar cane. The packaging is not in circulation or on shelves yet, but Agthia plans to distribute the first shipment within the next few months.
The manufacturing process used to make the bottles consumes 60% less energy than is typical, generating a 50% savings on non-renewable energy. Agthia is developing it at its new Packaging Technology Center in Al Ain.
Because the bottles break down in just 80 days, the shelf life for the product is much shorter than the average shelf stable bottled water. But Agthia wants 5% of its bottles made with plant-based sources by 2021.
“Agthia [is committed] to innovation and sustainability, which includes practices and application of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) standards across the company's business operations and measuring the impact on the environment,” the brand said.
Tackling recycling structure
New sustainability initiatives include a partnership with Veolia, a French water management company, to establish a circular ecosystem and enable more PET recycling in the Middle East region. Agthia’s goal is to make recycling easier and more accessible through improved collection models.
The initiative begins this month in Abu Dhabi, with the intent to implement it nationally. They also plan to test the collection of bottled water from homes using an app from Veolia.
Erich Konig, CEO of Veolia Environmental Services Emirates, said the partnership is “aiming to structure the local PET ecosystem by developing innovative and digital collection solutions to address the challenges of post-consumed plastic bottles and encouraging the creation of a more sustainable and circular economy for plastic."
Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, the Minister of Climate Change and Environment for the UAE, said, “We hope to see more businesses across all sectors with the same level of awareness and commitment to reducing their footprint to ensure that the UAE remains sustainable well into the future."
“The launch of Al Ain's plant-based water bottle and Agthia's other sustainability initiatives during the UAE Innovation Month is a prime example of how innovation can go a long way in driving environmental sustainability.”