Opinion from global food and drink experts, Zenith Global


February 14th, 2011 | Posted by Richard Hall in Recycling - (1 Comments)

Today is a day when most of our love is focused on other people.  We may also love our pets and brands, culture and countries.  But do we love our planet enough ?

There’s increasing evidence that business really does mean to conquer some of society’s biggest environmental concerns.  Like packaging.

In the latest issue of Bioplastics magazine, Coca-Cola provides an update on its new PlantBottle, which started out as 30% plant-based and 70% oil-based.

The company accepts that “we still have more work to do to crack the code on a plant-based … other 70% of PET plastic,” and then comes a momentous statement, “but we know it is feasible.  We’re aiming for a package that is 100% recyclable and 100% plant-based.”

Happy Valentine’s Day.


February 2nd, 2011 | Posted by Richard Hall in Recycling - (0 Comments)

The latest US figures on recycling of PET water bottles in 2009 are mixed.

  • Bad – recycling rate stuck at 31%, same as 2008.
  • Good – substantial improvement on 17% in 2004.
  • Good – 37% jump in use of recycled PET in new bottles.
  • Good – bottled water’s 31% is better than 28% average for all PET bottles.

 These comments are based on a report in the January 2011 of Beverage Industry magazine.


January 17th, 2011 | Posted by Richard Hall in Environmental | Recycling - (0 Comments)

I remain critical of UK national and local government for not ensuring uniformly high recycling rates of household waste, but I must at the same time acknowledge that rapid progress is being made. The latest UK Household Plastics Packaging Collection Survey by Recoup shows that:

  • 72% of HDPE milk bottles were recycled in 2009, substantially up from 57% in 2008.
  • Overall plastic collection for recycling rose by 22%.
  • 46% of plastic bottles were collected, compared with 39% in 2008 and just 13% in 2005. 
  • Kerbside collection coverage increased by 29% in 2009 to 23.3 million households.

Yet 10% of local authorities still do not offer any kerbside collection and 38% and do not operate additional “bring” schemes.  Moreover, the United Kingdom was ranked 21 out of 29 European countries for plastic recycling and energy recovery in 2009, behind all the rest of West Europe as well as Poland and Estonia among others.  The UK achieved just 25%, while nine countries managed rates above 80%.  So there is still a very long way to go.


November 5th, 2010 | Posted by Richard Hall in Recycling - (0 Comments)

It shouldn’t come as a shock, because the United States has always had inadequate collection schemes for used materials. But here are two simple facts.

Europe recycled 48% of its PET in 2009, but the US achieved just 28%.

I acknowledge that both the European and US rates are rising continuously. But, if every municipality followed best practice, these figures could be so much better.

I’ve commented on footprint comparisons before, but now return to the topic because new figures have been issued by the European Federation of Bottled Waters.

The first set offers indicative measures for the carbon footprint of various non-alcoholic drinks in grams of CO2 per litre, as sourced from Danone.

Plain still water
Carbonated soft drink
Fruit drink
Energy drink

The second set provides water footprints for different beverages in litres of water per litre of product, as sourced from waterfootprint.org

Bottled water under
Orange juice

The EFBW also reports that:

  • PET bottle recycling across Europe has increased from 35% in 2005 to 48% in 2009.
  • PET bottle weights have reduced by 17% since 1996.

It is reassuring that bottled water is coming up with robust answers to more of the environmental questions being asked.

Last weekend, I read about four separate packaging initiatives of great environmental merit.

  • Stonyfield Farm in the United States is pioneering yogurt cups made from plants, cutting carbon emissions by 48%.
  • Arla in the United Kingdom is already using 15% recycled plastic in all its milk polybottles and is aiming for 50% by 2020.
  • Coca-Cola expects to produce 5 billion bottles with 30% plant based materials in 2011 and plans to introduce Odwalla fruit juice bottles with 96% plant ingredients next March.
  • Stora Enso and Tetra Pak have developed new technology in Spain that enables recovery of the plastic and aluminium in beverage cartons.

As I keep saying, it would be even greater if local and national government recycling schemes advanced at the same pace.

Lightweighting can be taken too far. Sometimes it leads to floppy bottles and squishy cans.

But until recycling rates improve, drinks manufacturers are right to reduce their use of materials as far as possible.

Bags are fast becoming a serious new option, judging by two news items 1 saw in the UK trade press during August.

One was Kraft’s Eco Refill packs, which now account for a quarter of all Kenco coffee retail sales and use 97% less packaging weight than their equivalent in glass.

The other was Sainsbury introducing bags for its full range of milks, saving consumers 6 pence for 2 pints and using 75% less packaging.


Guess what proportion of recycled PET is going into new PET bottles ? 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% ? Actually under 20% across Europe in 2008, according to figures produced recently by Petcore and published in the April issue of PETplanetinsider.

45% of the 807,000 tonnes available went into fibre for products such as fleece fabric, back packs and computer cases. Nine of this year’s World Cup football teams are wearing strips made entirely out of rPET by Nike.

21% was turned into clear sheet for thermoformed trays, blisters and punnets such as for soft fruits.

20% was used in food contact containers, 11% for strapping tape and all other uses accounted for 3% including the new idea of rPET transport pallets.

All are for better than shipping to China for landfill, though.