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Ribena owner invents plant-based bottle in bid to move from plastics

The Business Magazine article image for: Ribena owner invents plant-based bottle in bid to move from plastics
3 December 2021

Suntory, the Japanese owner of the Forest of Dean-based producer of soft drinks including Ribena, Lucozade, and Orangina, has created a plant-based bottle as part of its drive to move away from plastic bottle use.

The prototype bottle will first be used for the Orangina brand in Europe, along with its best-selling bottled mineral water brand in Japan, Suntory Tennensui.

The announcement marks a breakthrough after a nearly decade-long partnership with the US-based sustainable technology company Anellotech.

Suntory aims to commercialise its 100 percent plant-based bottle – which is fully recyclable – as soon as possible to meet its 2030 fully sustainable PET bottle goal.

The bottle is made by combining Anellotech’s new technology, a plant-based hydrocarbon derived from wood chips, which has been converted to plant-based PTA, and pre-existing plant-based bioplastic made from molasses, which Suntory has been using in its Suntory Tennensui brand in Japan since 2013.

“We’re delighted with this achievement, as it brings us one step closer to delivering this sustainable PET bottle to the hands of our consumers,” said Tsunehiko Yokoi, executive officer of Suntory.

“The significance of this technology is that the PTA is produced from non-food biomass to avoid competition with the food chain, while MEG (the bioplastic )is also derived from non-food grade feedstock.”

In the UK, Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I has a track record for innovation.

The Ribena bottle has used recycled plastic since 2007. And the company recently invested £7.8 million to make its packaging even more sustainable by replacing plastic straws with paper ones on all Ribena cartons and all its core products including Lucozade Energy variants and Lucozade Sport are recyclable.

SBF GB&I also supports the acceleration of efficient recycling programmes, including the introduction of Deposit Return Schemes across the four nations and Ireland.

Earlier this year, the company launched the world’s first Orangina bottle made from an enzymatic recycling process with the Carbios-led consortium.

SBFE’s R&D director Vincent Meron said: “We strongly believe that plastic, when produced and recycled responsibly, has a significant role to play in soft drinks manufacturing.

"Today’s announcement demonstrates that we can take wood chips and molasses and turn them into plastic which can then be recycled again.

"In the future we will integrate this new bio plastic with plastic made from post-consumer waste.

"This will enable us to move away from plastic bottles made from fossil fuel, which also supports our greenhouse gas emissions reduction activity.”

Michelle Norman, director of sustainability & external affairs at Suntory Beverage & Food Europe added: “Bringing plant-based plastics into the supply chain solves a major challenge for drinks companies.

"Due to the low availability of recycled plastic across Europe innovation like this will ensure that the demand for our much-loved drinks can be met in a sustainable way for future generations to come.”


Peter Davison is deputy editor of The Business Magazine. He has spent his life in journalism – doing work experience in newsrooms in and around Bristol while still at school, and landing his first job on a local newspaper aged 19. By 28 he was the youngest newspaper editor in the country.

An early advocate of online news, he spent the first years of the 2000s telling his bosses that the internet posed both the biggest opportunity and greatest threat to the newspaper industry and the art of journalism. He was right on both counts.

Since 2006 he has enjoyed a career as a freelance journalist. He lives in rural Wiltshire with one wife, two children, and three cats.

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