2nd progress report on UNESDA commitments to the EU Code of Conduct

The European soft drinks sector continues to make progress on its commitments under the EU Code of Conduct, achieving strong results regarding its health and nutrition actions in particular (2021-2022).


Sugar reduction

  • Unesda corporate members achieved a reduction of 7.6% in average added sugars in their soft drinks between 2019 and 2022, which represents an additional reduction of 4 percentage points within 1 year (between 2021 and 2022). This is part of the sector’s latest commitment to reduce average added sugars by a further 10% by 2025 in the EU-27 and in the UK.

Marketing and advertising practices to children

  • The sector reached high compliance rates in 2022:
    • 98.7% on TV
    • 92.9% on company-owned websites
    • 94.1% on company-owned social media profiles
    • 100% on influencer profiles

School policies

  • The sector is highly compliant with its school policies in the four selected EU countries for its 2022 monitoring:
    • 100% (primary schools) and 92.3% (secondary schools) in Austria
    • 100% (primary schools) and 93.4% (secondary schools) in Italy
    • 100% (primary schools) and 100% (secondary schools) in Slovenia
    • 100% (primary schools) and 96.2% (secondary schools) in Sweden

Circularity of soft drinks packaging


  • Unesda and its corporate members continued their actions to increase the amount of recycled plastic content in their beverage PET bottles to achieve the sector’s objective of using 50% recycled PET by 2025. However, the cost and availability of this material have been major challenges impacting these efforts.
  • Between 2021 and 2022, two of Unesda’s major corporate members have reported an average increase of 3% in returnable refillable bottles and have invested in innovative, convenient, and sustainable solutions like systems enabling refill, in particular at-home dispensers. 


The European soft drinks sector needs supportive policies in place to deliver on its commitments.

Health and nutrition

  • Support from EU public authorities and regulators for the use of ingredients assessed as safe by health authorities, such as low- and no-calorie sweeteners.
  • Develop evidence-based dietary recommendations that do not denigrate or discriminate against any ingredient approved for use.
  • Encourage other food and drink sectors to take additional voluntary initiatives to reformulate products. These actions are more effective than regulation to encourage healthier dietary habits.
  • Ensure regular and reliable pan-European monitoring of food and drink consumption intakes and patterns across Europe to better understand what interventions are needed and can be effective.


Packaging circularity 

  • Legislation supporting well-designed, industry-led Deposit Return Systems and promoting high-quality recycling through a priority access right to recycling feedstock to ensure a closed-loop system.
  • A realistic regulatory framework on reuse that provides beverage producers flexibility to invest in the packaging mix that makes the most sense from environmental, economic, and consumer perspectives. This also includes considering all available reusable and refill options (at home and on the go) for the achievement of the reuse and refill targets proposed in the draft Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation.

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