During the last decade or so, consumer packaged goods companies have done a good job on improving the recycle-ability of paper packaging. The same really can’t be said for using recycled content in plastic packaging. However, this “post-consumer recycled (PCR) content,” as it is technically knows, is making serious inroads in our industry, especially in plastic packaging for personal care products. Industry leaders in this type of sustainable packaging have proven that creating a demand for recycled plastics, through the purchase of this post-consumer resin, will drive our industry into a new future.
Ironically, perhaps the greatest driver in the adoption of recycled plastic in this country is China’s ban on recycled plastic and mixed paper, set to take full effect Dec. 31, 2017. Here-to-fore, China was a massive importer of such recyclables so the sudden disappearance of this market will literally force domestic producers to create a domestic market for them.
100% PCR is a reality at PepsiCo
PepsiCo has made a serious commitment to using recycled PET or rPET. In fact, one of that fabled company’s goals is explicitly stated thusly: “Achieve Best-in-Class recycled content for Beverage primary packaging.” Across their many brands, PepsiCo increased the use of rPET by 4% to an impressive 139 million pounds annually just two years ago. As one of the largest users of rPET in the consumer goods space, PepsiCo’s brands are paced by Naked Juice, whose square bottles use 100% PCR. By not using virgin PET, Naked Juice bottles save 25% of the energy typically used in conventional manufacturing processes.
Nestlé Waters North America, another leader in the packaged consumer goods industry, has moved several product lines towards PCR plastic packaging. One of its brands, Resource Water, has even reached 100% recycled content. The Swiss-based company has actually created a demand for rPET, helping encourage suppliers to produce the material. Moreover, this has had a follow-on effect where the demand for post-consumer PET has increased, and recycling programs were incentivized to ensure the supply of high-quality rPET, which meets Nestlé’s requirements for bottling water.