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Going All Out to Get All Out of Plastic | New Metal Range

25, June 2024

Going All Out to Get All Out of Plastic

We’re going all out to get all out of plastic – starting with our new, 100% recycled and infinitely recyclable 500ml aluminium range. These shiny new bottles mark our 50th anniversary – and have been voted on by Nature as a director of our company. And they’re the latest milestone in a 50-year journey of making our packaging as planet-friendly as we can.

In the eighties, we pioneered the plastic-saving refills that many of you still love and use today. In 1999, we switched to 100% recycled and recyclable plastic bottles – and they’ve been that way ever since. At one point, in an attempt to reduce the amount of plastic in our bottles, we made them so lightweight that they all fell over!

While recycled plastic is good, infinitely recyclable metal is, of course (much!) better. In the EU, for example, recycling rates for plastic are around 9% – but for aluminium, they’re approximately 86%. In the space of just 60 days, a used drinks can is often recycled and back in the shelves as a new can. Long-term, this means far fewer planetary sources are needed for aluminium than they are for plastic.

We’ve known for a while that we want to start the move into aluminium bottles, but finding the right manufacturer for us wasn’t as easy or as straightforward as we’d have liked it to be.

We were adamant that our new bottles be made of 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) aluminium. This was crucial because the carbon footprint for PCR is much lower than that of new aluminium. In the EU, the average carbon footprint for the production of a tonne of aluminium is 13 tonnes – for the aluminium we’re using, it’s 1.1 tonne.

Infinitely recyclable metal bottles

There are only three companies in Europe that produce 100% recycled 500ml bottles. Our supplier has Platinum EcoVadis Certification – that’s the top rating of an industry sustainability credential that only 1% of qualifying businesses have. They’re focused on sustainable sourcing and the development of green aluminium (which saves approximately 70% of the carbon footprint) and have set Science Based Targets to reduce their carbon emissions – all of which means the carbon embodied in our bottle will decrease.

We’ve carried out a basic life cycle assessment which compares our 100% recycled plastic 400ml bottle with our 100% recycled aluminium 500ml bottle. The assessment looks into the carbon emissions generated by the production of the raw material, the manufacture of the bottle, the secondary packaging and transportation to us from our supplier and the packaging end of life. Although the aluminium bottle has 1.7 times the carbon footprint of the plastic one, if you refill it just once, the carbon per use becomes less than that of the plastic bottle.

Plastic free shampoo, conditioner and body wash

But the carbon footprint of the bottle isn’t the only thing we’re considering. We take a holistic view of sustainability, meaning we’re considering a pathway to net zero, but we’re also considering planetary resources. Our move towards circular economy principals is based on the idea of getting the maximum use out of any resources extracted from the planet, thus reducing the overall need for extraction. Aluminium already fits into one of the most efficient recycling systems in existence; metal retains its qualities no matter how many times it is recycled, whereas plastic downgrades each time you recycle it. In the last decade, there’s been significant progress in reducing the carbon footprint of the metals industry. Partnering with businesses like this manufacturer means we’re supporting the move to low carbon metal production, which is necessary if we’re to adopt a circular economy and reduce the planetary resources we extract.

On our quest to find the perfect bottle, we did everything we could to ensure the environmental impact was as low as possible, from experimenting with transit to remove plastic separators, to making sure the caps and pumps have a double-locking mechanism to prevent the need for secondary packaging.

In the end, after years of trials and testing, we found the bottle that ticked all our boxes. We hope these shiny new, infinitely recyclable things will go on to be refilled and recycled many times over. And we’re working on making more of our packaging out of aluminium in the future, because our next 50 years starts now.

Shop our new 500ml 100% recycled and infinitely recyclable aluminium range here.