Why and When will Bottle-to-Bottle rPET Technology Dominate?

Strategies are shaped by competition.  Coke, Pepsi and Nestle are the biggest beverage companies in the world accounting for 80% of the world’s bottled beverages volume.

The consumer can buy a case of 35 bottles of 500ml sized spring water at Costco produced by PureLife by Nestle for $2.75 a case or 8¢ a bottle.  A small spring water company doing 10 – 40 million bottles of water annually will pay more than 8 cents for an empty blown bottle before it sells it, fills it or ships it.  Nestle won an Eco Award for their EcoBottle characterized by using 40% less plastic and a smaller cap.  Of course Nestle just makes more money since they buy less plastic.  The EcoBottle is not user-friendly and the cap is not choke or kiddie-proof both, we perceive as long-term problems, however they provide a large group of consumers what they want, that is: cheap and convenient bottled water.  A Box of 12 San Pellegrino carbonated water shipped from Italy to Canada in heavy, elegant glass bottles sells at the discount supermarket for $19.99 or $1.66 a bottle.  San Pellegrino is also owned by Nestle.  San Pellegrino’s eco statement is terrible when you calculate the energy cost to make glass and ship it across oceans however again the consumer gets what they want: Italian water in an elegant presentation that they believe tastes better while they ignore the ECO implications.

The point is: It is all about giving the consumers what they want.  Coke invented the Plant Bottle.  The Plant Bottle is made from sugarcane, a food source.  The Plant Bottle is a PET plastic bottle.  The Plant bottle is 100% PET, 70% made from oil and 30% from sugarcane.  The Plant Bottle is not biodegradable and lasts as long as the petroleum-based PET however a large segment of the population believes that the Plant Bottle is, in fact, biodegradable.

The world’s population wants eco-friendly products and solutions.  There are 400 billion PET plastic bottles filled each year that amounts to 62 PET plastic bottles annually for every single person on the planet.  At 1¢ a bottle, the cost to make a bottle oxo-biodegradable, that amounts to $4 billion.

The population loves that bottles can be recycled into other bottles.  Driven by competitive necessity, competitors to the Big Three will educate the public that bottle-to-bottle PCR (Post consumer recycled) PET plastic bottles are a good thing, especially when they realize the rPET plastic doesn’t require the purchase of foreign oil.

Coke has invested heavily in rPET bottle-to-bottle recycling.  Coke is a large buyer of rPET pellets in China and reputedly is putting rPET in small percentage quantities into their PET bottles in the Chinese market.

In our opinion, the Big Three will move more and more toward rPET PET plastic bottles as the world’s supply of rPET expands.  The competitors to the Big Three and other brand owners whose CEO’s have vision, will soon begin to switch getting a jump on the Big Three in order to gain a competitive edge.  Let’s analyze what’s currently happening in the market place and gauge whether current events are in fact predicting the future:

The facts:

  • Coke made in excess of a $60 million investment in the world’s largest bottle-to-bottle recycling plant.  Sandy Douglas, President of Coke, of North America conveyed Coke’s commitment to “recycle and reuse” 100% of Coke’s bottles and cans in North America.  The plant will produce the equivalent 2,000,000,000 bottles.  Coke serves 1.5 billion servings a day.  The scale of the challenge is apparent from these numbers.
  • The largest producer of rPET pellets in China is tripling its capacity in 2011.  The Big Three have contracted to buy 100% of the current production of this supplier of 100% FDA food grade rPET pellets.
  • Krones, one of the world’s largest developers and supplies of machinery to the bottling industry is introducing a series of super efficient PET washing and flaking recycling equipment.  rPET flakes and pellets can be manufactured at prices less than virgin PET.  All of the output will be produced at prices less than the cost of producing virgin PET pellets when factoring in shipping and energy costs.
  • In a press release dated Oct. 21, 2010 NAPCOR (National Association for PET Container Resources) disclosed year to year comparative results for US recycling rates.  Virgin PET pellet purchases were down 4% in 2009 due mainly based on consumer backlash against plastic bottles and the recession.  The use of rPET in food, beverage and non-food containers was up 37% in 2009 based on the desire for “environmentally sound packaging”.  To quote the press release There is a “combination of high demand and an inadequate supply” of rPET.  Capacity will continue to climb to meet demand.
  • The Collective Group, a largest UK co-operative has moved to 100% rPET for bottle stating that they will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1,212 tonnes.  They made the switch after a poll of 100,000 members of The Co-operative Food Ethical Policy voted 97% endorsed the policy “to reduce waste and increase recycling” as to priority.
  • Eldorado Artesian Springs, the largest seller of Colorado spring water has gone 100% rPET for their bottled water.  On Aug 11, 2010 the company stated:

“Right now, we are a very regional company but the largest seller of Colorado spring water. With our new RPET bottle we feel that we have the opportunity to expand our volume as well as our distribution area”

“Using our RPET bottles, we are able to lower our impact on the environment drastically by keeping plastic out of the waste stream and lowering our carbon footprint. By using 100 per cent RPET, we save 77 per cent of the energy required to produce a virgin PET bottle.”

  • Crystal  Beverage Co. of California has introduced Regenerate 100% rPET plastic bottles they state that they “have a 65% smaller carbon footprint than traditional PET plastic bottles”.

Regenerate 100% rPET has produced the following chart:

Our Earth Friendly Bottle.

  • TerraChoice has published on Oct 20, 2010 “The Sins of Green Washing”.  Three pertinent statements have been made:
  • “There are 73 per cent more green products on the market today than in 2009.”
  • “More than 95 per cent of consumer products claiming to be green are guilty of at least one of the “sins” of greenwashing”.
  • “Good eco-labeling helps prevent (but does not eliminate) greenwashing – of the products certified by a recognized third-party certification, more than 30 per cent are sin-free.”
  • Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) also has gone to 100% rPET with its 60 million bottles per year of RIBENA, fruit juice product.  Their quest for sustainable packaging went from 40% rPET to 100% rPET in October, 2007.

Smoothie drink manufacturer, INNOCENT went from 25%, to 50% and the current 100% rPET in order, we quote: “for a 55% reduction in the overall carbon footprint of their bottles”.

  • Naya Spring Water of Quebec, Canada claims to be the first bottled water company to go 100% rPET.  Naya states that they are an eco-responsible company who has reduced their carbon footprint by 30% thru the introduction of their rPET bottle.
  • Rainbow Light Nutritional Systems is a vitamin company that has gone 100% rPET for their PET bottles.  A quote from Rainbow President, Linda Rahler “We’re taking a leadership position in reducing the vitamin’s industry’s environment footprint.”

According to the EPA, producing new plastic from recycled material uses only 2/3 of the energy required to manufacture it from virgin raw materials.

The entire vitamin industry will likely follow.

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