PET recycling claims ‘mislead consumers’

Claims that PET bottles are “100% recyclable” or “100% recycled” are likely to mislead consumers, a report from the consultancy Eunomia said.

Working with environmental groups ClientEarth, the Environmental Coalition for Standards and Zero Waste Europe, Eunomia said that PET was “currently not a circular material even in the best recycling systems in Europe” in its report. 100% Greenwash? Green claims on PET beverage bottles in Europe.

Rosa Pritchard of ClientEarth said: “This report clearly demonstrates that ‘plastic bottle circularity’ is a myth.”

Claims about the “sustainability” of PET beverage bottles “do not reflect reality” and potentially violated consumer protection law by making false claims, Eunomia said.

The report investigated examples of claims and found that the term “recyclable” was ambiguous and should not be placed on the bottles.

It is recommended instead that the labels should provide consumers with clear instructions on how to dispose of the packaging.

Claims that PET bottles are “100% recycled” might not account for all components, as caps and labels “are rarely, if ever, made from recycled content.”

The authors conclude that PET beverage bottles should not be marketed in a way that implies circularity or sustainability.

Andy Grant, technical director of Eunomia Research & Consulting, said: “PET beverage bottles should not be marketed using language or imagery that states or implies circularity, sustainability and/or climate neutrality.

“Even when considering only the PET body and in the most efficient recycling system, complete circularity is not technically feasible. There will always be a need for an input of virgin plastic.”

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