Lucozade poised to change ‘villainous’ packaging after recycling criticism

The manufacturer of Lucozade, Lucozade Ribena Suntory, has announced it will review the unrecyclable sleeve currently used to wrap its drinks bottles, following pressure from the recycling industry and a grilling from the Environmental Audit Committee on Tuesday (24 October).  

The Lucozade Sport bottle was targeted in May by Simon Ellin, Chief Executive of the Recycling Association, who appeared on the BBC’s Breakfast show to shame the worst packaging offenders in the food and drink industry. He said: “This bottle is so confusing to computer scanners that it has to be picked by hand off the recycling conveyor. Then it often just gets chucked away."

The standard lucozade bottle is also difficult to recycle because the polymer sleeve the brand uses can be recycled, but only at one centre in the UK, according to Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee, which is currently conducting an inquiry into single-use packaging.

The change in packaging could lead to other brands following suit

Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the committee, singled out Lucozade bottles when questioning industry representatives last Tuesday. She asked: “Why do your members insist on using unrecyclable packaging that cannot be recycled in British recycling facilities? Why do we need a plastic wrapping around a bottle?”

Following the hearing, Lucozade Ribena Suntory said it has been consulting with members of the recycling industry and identified areas for improvement.

A spokesperson told Resource: “We are working to address the plastic sleeve we use on our drinks and the volume of rPET in the plastic throughout our portfolio. We hope to roll out initiatives to address these considerations in the near future.“

Although the company has not confirmed, it is likely that this action will consist of removing the sleeve or making it smaller or more transparent to enable automated sorting machines to identify it more easily.

Speaking in May, Ellin also singled out Pringles tubes as one of the worst items to recycle because of the cardboard outer layer, metal lining, metal base, foil and paper strip and plastic lid. Cleaning spray bottles were also on his list due to the use of several polymers and often a metal spring in them, making them difficult to recycle.

Ellin said: “I have picked out these products as they are among the worst offenders when it comes to packaging that is difficult to recycle. We have got to ensure that the whole supply chain is involved from designers, to manufacturers, to retailers, to recyclers, to local authorities and the householder so that the products we buy can be recycled.”

The design of packaging was one of the core elements of WRAP’s framework for consistent household recycling, launched last year. As part of the work to make it easier for councils to collect and recycle the same range of products and materials, a Rationalisation of Packaging Group, led by the Co-op Group’s Environment Manager Iain Ferguson, has been established to identify some of the main issues with packaging with a Brand, Retailer and Manufacturer Pledge due to be launched soon.