- Rebbl is transitioning to 100% recycled and recyclable plastic bottles for all of its 12-ounce organic plant-based beverages. The California-based company said its new Green Packaging Initiative takes used plastic bottles and makes them into new ones. This conserves resources, reduces materials going to landfills and capitalizes on the energy invested in producing existing plastic products.
- CEO Michele Kessler said in a press release that these bottles are among the first in the industry to be made of completely recycled material. "By switching 20 million Rebbl bottles annually to 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, greenhouse gas emissions have the potential to be reduced by 922 tons of carbon dioxide. That’s roughly the equivalent environmental benefit that 1,086 acres of U.S. forests provide in one year," she said.
- The company, which is a Certified B Corp, also noted it ships all of its online orders in boxes with liners and ice packs that are fully biodegradable or curbside recyclable.
With this announcement, Rebbl is appealing to consumer interest in sustainable packaging and touting its green credentials at the same time. The company is also emphasizing the role consumers can play in enhancing the environment by diverting plastic waste, and potentially encouraging a market for post-consumer recycled plastic through their shopping decisions.
Rebbl isn't the first beverage company to adopt recycled and recyclable bottles, although it may be one of the few to introduce bottles that are completely made of such materials and change packaging for its whole portfolio. This commitment could encourage other companies to go a step further on their sustainability goals, especially as consumers and investors increasingly demand environmental responsibility from companies. The Coca-Cola Co. has been moving to fully recyclable plastic bottles for its Dasani water brand, with a 20-ounce bottle with up to 50% plant-based renewable and recycled PET plastic debuting this year.
PepsiCo is also switching up its packaging options and plans to put its Lifewtr products in 100% recycled plastic by the end of 2020. Nestlé is partnering with Danimer Scientific on developing biodegradable water bottles, and has committed to having all of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.
And other beverage makers, including PepsiCo and Vita Coco, are investing more in aluminum cans as a way to avoid plastic and increase their recyclability factor.
Recycling plastic into food-grade packaging is not an easy feat, and it has taken years for some CPG companies to begin transitioning to more of these materials in their packaging systems. Increasing consumer pressure to move away from plastic packaging has no doubt played a role in pushing things forward, but even so, major plastic users such as Coca-Cola indicate they probably won't be getting rid of it completely because they have found that consumers still like it and find it convenient.
Manufacturers who do shift to recyclable bottles also face the challenge of getting consumers to actually recycle them. They could encourage this through labeling and educational campaigns — as Dasani has done — and potentially partnering with retailers on in-store signage. It may take additional incentives to instill the recycling habit in people used to tossing single-use plastic bottles and food and beverage containers.
It's possible Rebbl could see increased costs through this new Green Packaging Initiative and need to reflect it in product pricing down the road, although some consumers may not balk at paying a bit more for fully recycled and recyclable bottles. Still, the expense factor could give other brands pause before taking such a step toward fuller sustainability. It will likely take some time to see how the brand's move shakes out before others decide to join in.