Drinks supplier investigates use of wood fibre bottles

| Manufacturing

Britvic is investing in research into alternative packaging materials to achieve long term sustainability goals.

Britvic, the owner of major soft drinks brands including Robinsons squash, J20 and Fruit Shoot, and the PepsiCo bottler in the UK, has taken significant steps towards exploring wood fibre bottles as a viable packaging option for multiple sectors.

In partnership with Innovate UK and Natural Resources (2000) Ltd, the soft drinks manufacturer has been working to revolutionise packaging across multiple sectors with sustainably sourced, renewable wood fibre materials which are fully recyclable.

Investigating the new wood fibre packaging technology formed part of Britvic’s broader R&D work stream within the sustainability strategy in 2016. It is early days and the bottle forms one of a number of potential methods at this point. More importantly, the research process into fibre and pulp has provided essential information for Britvic’s R&D team to explore further alternative packaging.

Clive Hooper, Chief Supply Chain Officer at Britvic commented: “At Britvic, we know that to be a successful business in the long term we must be a sustainable business and this means listening to the needs of our consumers, our customers, our communities and our employees.

“We understand that packaging and the environmental impact of waste is a major concern and we’re committed to working collaboratively with others to explore innovative products. The wood fibre bottle is a great example of what potentially can be done and its development has provided great insight into what will and won’t work in terms of quality standards and mass production in the future. We’re now working hard to take our experience from the fibre bottle to investigate fibre-based sustainable packaging materials further.”

As well as investment in R&D, Britvic’s sustainability strategy places environmental initiatives at the heart of the business. Britvic is currently half way through a £240m supply chain investment programme to maximise efficiency across its manufacturing sites, reduce waste and improve its environmental footprint.

As part of this programme, £25m was invested at the Leeds plant, which employs over 200 people, to create a new high-speed bottling line, resulting in a 22% reduction in water use and a 45% reduction in energy consumption relative to production volumes. The upgrades have also allowed the Pepsi bottler to access the latest in packaging technology, allowing Britvic to blow and fill lighter bottles, thereby reducing the amount of plastic packaging needed per year by 155 tonnes, the equivalent weight of over ten double decker buses.

Meanwhile, Britvic has invested in upgrading equipment and processing techniques to deliver greater water efficiency, resulting in a reduction in total water consumption of 0.4% despite a 0.7% increase in production volumes. This saving is equivalent to the volume of water needed to fill five full size swimming pools.

Finally, as part of Britvic’s commitment to reducing waste, Britvic sent zero waste to landfill in GB, and maintained a recycling rate of nearly 92%. As part of its community outreach, the company also partnered with RECOUP – member based plastics recycling organisation – to encourage 25,000 festival goers at Liverpool’s Fusion Festival to recycle their plastic bottles, which resulted in the collection and recycling of over 10,000 plastic bottles, saving the equivalent of nearly half a tonne of carbon.

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