With Plastic Free July now fully underway, a Leeds-based business is continuing to use its unique insight and expertise to help drinks manufacturers tackle the global problem of plastic pollution. CO2 Sustain LTD, makers of patented liquid foam control and carbonation aid, CO2Sustain, is stepping up production at its research and production facility to help businesses reduce the volume of plastic packaging they use.
The innovative solution can proactively aid the process of ‘lightweighting’, a technique that aims to drastically reduce plastic consumption in the beverage industry by using thinner plastic in the packaging manufacturing process.
Plastic pollution has triggered mounting pressure on drinks manufacturers to reduce plastic usage and the environmental impact of using polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles. Manufacturers and bottlers are further incentivised to cut down on plastic as they benefit from a substantial cost saving by using less increasingly expensive raw materials.
However, as plastic is porous, gas leakage over time is inevitable, capping carbonation shelf life for PET packaged drinks on average at 12 months.
Jonathan Stott, business manager CO2Sustain LTD, said: “We are helping soft drinks manufacturers all over the world to not only cut down their plastic use but also save money by using our product in their production process. Lightweighting is the practice of manufacturing thinner plastic bottles which will biodegrade quicker and use less raw materials. Whilst lightweighting is good news for the drinks brands and for the planet but drinks manufacturers, this creates a similar problem to using recycled plastic as the integrity of the PET walls of bottles is compromised and reduces carbonation shelf life. This has the undesirable effect of deterring the manufacturers from doing it.”
The thinner the plastic bottle, the more porous it becomes and the quicker the carbonated beverage will lose its fizz. This problem is made even worse when producing and distributing in hot climates, where refreshing drinks are in the highest demand, as hotter climates exacerbate carbon dioxide loss. So despite saving money and resources in one area by reducing plastic usage, new obstacles are presented with carbonation shelf life cut shorter and wastage likely to increase.
Mr Stott added: “Drinks manufacturers who use our product can make a huge difference to the environmental damage resulting from plastic bottles. In developing CO2Sustain our scientists are able to retain carbon dioxide in carbonated drinks, making drinks fizzier and for longer. This means beverage businesses are free to produce drinks that use less plastic whilst maintaining the carbonation shelf life standard. With no impact on taste or appearance, our innovative non-silicone processing aid has the potential to contribute to massive waste reductions globally which is great news in the global battle against plastic pollution.”
CO2Sustain LTD currently works with drinks brands and manufacturers across four continents and is active in 25 countries across Europe, the US and Latin America, India, Africa and the Middle East. Exports are growing at over 300 per cent annually. The global carbonated soft drink market size is expected to reach $320.1bn by 2028.*
Mr Stott says: “CO2Sustain was created to support the beverage industry and improve the consumer experience, but this doesn’t simply stop with the taste and feel of the product. We want to support sustainability innovation and provide drinks brands with that little extra breathing room to find the best planet-friendly solutions that also work for them. Plastic Free July provides the perfect opportunity to emphasise this.”
Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to cut plastic pollution. The initiative provides resources and ideas to help people reduce single-use plastic waste in their lives. Last year, an estimated 326m people from 177 countries took part in the challenge.
* according to a new report by Grand View Research (2021)