Soft drinks boss argues for more action on waste plastics

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

How can UK plastic bottles end up in the Pacific Ocean? asks Lucozade boss
How can UK plastic bottles end up in the Pacific Ocean? asks Lucozade boss

Related tags Soft drinks Soft drinks industry Recycling

The boss of a leading soft drinks company has called on both industry and government to do more to tackle plastic packaging waste, after acknowledging its impact on the marine environment was not sustainable.

The soft drinks industry needed to act to address the “increasing consumer and political expectations around recycling”, ​claimed Peter Harding, chief operating officer at Lucozade Ribena Suntory.

Harding, who is also president of the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA), criticised the government’s approach to recycling collection scheme. He said the industry was keen to “seize the opportunity to be part of the answer”.

“Can anyone tell me how a bottle manufactured and consumed in the UK can travel long-haul, and become litter in the Pacific Ocean? It simply doesn’t make sense,”​ he said.

‘Confused about what can be recycled’

In England alone, there are 400 different collection schemes for waste and recycling. It’s no surprise, therefore, that 89% of households are confused about what can be recycled in their local areas.”

Harding said he was recently told that government didn’t want to interfere in the autonomy of local authorities, and so that these inefficiencies would continue.

“If we want to solve the littering problem, and if we want to solve pollution in our oceans, that is simply not acceptable,”​ he claimed

The problem was exacerbated by the fact that two-thirds of the UK’s plastic packaging waste, collected under the government’s packaging return system was exported for recycling, Harding explained.

‘We do not support this system’

“The soft drinks industry did not design this system, and we do not support this system. It needs to change and it needs to reform,”​ he added.

Harding’s comments, made at last month’s BSDA industry lunch in London, came ahead of an announcement by Lucozade Ribena Suntory of its “rollout initiatives”​ to address the unrecyclable plastic sleeves around Lucozade bottles and the volume of recycled polyethylene terephthalate throughout its portfolio.

The company had been singled out by a House of Commons environmental audit committee, which criticised the plastic packaging industry’s poor record on recycling.

In October, the government ran a month-long consultation on ways to reduce littering and improve recycling and reuse of drinks containers, with a particular focus on the benefits 

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