Circularity claims on PET beverage bottles, such as “100% recyclable” or “100% recycled”, are likely to be misleading consumers, according to a new report published today (31 October).
The report, produced by ClientEarth, ECOS (Environmental Coalition on Standards), Eunomia Research & Consulting and Zero Waste Europe, is based on previous work by Eunomia which concluded that PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is not currently a circular material within even the “best recycling systems in Europe”.
Circularity claims may be inaccurate in some cases, the report found, and overall give an impression of the “sustainability” of PET beverage bottles that “does not reflect reality”.
Commenting on the report, Andy Grant, Technical Director at Eunomia Research & Consulting, said: “PET beverage bottles should not be marketed using language or imagery that states or implies circularity, sustainability and/or climate neutrality.
“Even when just considering the PET body and in the most efficient recycling system, full circularity is not technically feasible. There will always be a need for an input of virgin plastic.”
PET beverage bottles should not be marketed using language or imagery that states or implies circularity.
The report investigated examples of on-pack claims and found that the term recyclable is “ambiguous” and should not be placed on bottles. Instead, it recommends that labels provide consumers with clear instructions on how to dispose of packaging.
It also finds that “100% recycled” claims may not account for all the components of the bottle, as the report states caps and labels are rarely made from recycled content. The report says that companies should address these practices to avoid misleading consumers and potentially breaching consumer protection laws.
The authors of the report conclude that PET beverage bottles should not be marketed using language or imagery that implies circularity or sustainability.
Rosa Pritchard from ClientEarth, commented: “This report clearly demonstrates that ‘plastic bottle circularity’ is a myth. Claims on bottles that promote this idea risk misleading consumers and presenting an obstacle to the green transition.
“Consumers need access to fair, honest information about the environmental impacts of products, and clear information on recycling. Action will need to be taken on these claims to rebuild consumer confidence and better protect the planet.”