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Recycling and soft drinks
Most non-alcoholic drinks packaging is either refillable or recyclable. Indeed the recycling percentage rates of beverage packaging are amongst the highest of the packing industry in Europe and meet or exceed the legal recovery targets by at least 50%.
UNESDA members’ package products in glass, aluminium, steel, PET and cartons, and have led the way in encouraging the collection, recovery and recycling of packaging.
Glass: The weight of glass bottles is highly dependent on the use or reuse of the containers and because the bottles need to be reused and make multiple trips they need to be resistant and robust and as a consequence they are heavier.
New innovation and the design of single-use glass bottles has allowed the industry to reduce the weight of the existing 330ml glass bottle by 20% to 210 grams in the past three years.
Aluminium: Aluminium cans are 100% recyclable. Cans are 40% lighter than they were 40 years ago and a 330ml can weighs around 10 grams.
Steel: Steel is the most recycled material in the world and steel cans are 100% recyclable. Steel cans are 50% lighter than they were 40 years ago and a 330ml steel can now weighs around 21 grams.
PET: PET containers are 100% recyclable and the weight of the average PET bottle has reduced by 50% over the past 10 years.
PET is recovered through industry recovery systems and sorted into different colour fractions. This sorted post-consumer PET is crushed, pressed into bales and offered to recycling companies. PET flakes are then used as a raw material for a whole range of products from shirts and textiles to carpets and clothes. Today there is also a growing use for recycled PET in new beverage bottles. The average recovery rate for used PET is around 40% with the individual recovery systems of some member states achieving as much as 80%.
Cartons: Some 32% of beverage cartons used in Europe are now recycled – representing 330,000 tonnes.
UNESDA members are all licensees of PRO Europe – the umbrella organisation for European packaging and packaging waste recovery and recycling schemes. These schemes are labelled with the Green Dot.