1st progress report on UNESDA commitments to the EU Code of Conduct

The European soft drinks sector has made good progress on its commitments under the EU Code of Conduct in the past year (2020-2021).


Sugar reduction

  • Unesda’s members achieved a reduction of 3.6% in average added sugars in their soft drinks between 2019 and 2021 (part of the sector’s commitment to reduce average added sugars by a further 10% by 2025)
  • Already 14 Unesda’s national associations have made national sugar reduction commitments inspired by the Unesda commitment at EU level, with deadlines from 2025 to 2030.

Circularity of soft drinks packaging

  • For most of UNESDA corporate members, now more than 96% of their packaging is fully recyclable.
  • UNESDA corporate members have considerably increased the use of recycled plastic content in their packaging, with increases going from +4% to +30% between 2020 and 2021.


Further progress will be possible with a supportive EU legislative framework. In particular, Unesda is calling for the creation of the following enablers:


Health and nutrition:

  • The promotion of a multi-faceted and multi-stakeholder approach to address obesity and overweight, calling for collective action from all actors.
  • The recognition of meaningful voluntary approaches to sugar reduction as efficient alternatives to regulation.
  • Support to the use of ingredients (e.g. low-calorie sweeteners) approved as safe by health authorities.
  • Regular and reliable pan-European monitoring of food and drink consumption intakes and patterns to better understand what interventions work for what population groups.
  • The adoption of an EU-wide, interpretative, front-of-pack nutrition labelling scheme that avoids fragmentation of the Single Market, is based on sound science and evidence, and which does not discriminate foods or ingredients.


Circular packaging:

  • The introduction of EU minimum requirements for new Deposit Refund Systems across Europe to guarantee high collection rates of beverage packaging.
  • A well-functioning secondary raw materials market that gives the soft drinks sector fair access to sufficient high-quality recycled PET: despite the soft drinks sector’s great progress in the field, Unesda is concerned by the lack of guarantee to access the necessary material to meet the sector’s commitments in the future.
  • Realistic targets and a well-managed integration towards an increase in reusable beverage systems.

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