Evian, the brand that long ago made bottled water chic and opened the door for more competitors to flood the market, announced yesterday that all of its plastic bottles will be made from 100 percent recycled plastic by 2025.
The news was first shared on Twitter by Emmanuel Faber, CEO of Danone, which traces its ownership of Evian back to 1970:
Last year, Evian announced that it would become carbon neutral by 2020.
In order to reach this waste diversion goal, Evian will partner with organizations including The Ocean Cleanup, Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Loop Industries. Aligned with this initiative are programs that will aim to change consumer behavior, boost recycling initiatives and strive to eliminate the plastic trash that is ending up in the world’s oceans at a rapid clip.
The key to this zero waste shift becoming successful is finding the technology that will allow for those pesky PET bottles to be recycled again and again into sturdy new bottles. That is where Loop Industries steps in. Currently, many of the PET bottles that end up in recycling streams end up as fabric or upholstery in their second life. As explained on Fast Company, one huge challenge to expanded PET recycling is that the resulting material in time ends up as a lower grade material, which makes a second life as a consumer product a challenge.
Of course, even if this project comes to fruition in the next seven years, the results still may not mollify critics of the bottled water industry: after all, it still means heavy cases of bottled water will be shipped across the oceans, a journey that leaves behind its own significant carbon footprint.
Nevertheless, a future circular economy that helps reduce the amount of plastic ending up in oceans could improve the reputation of the bottled water industry and conserve some landfill space as well. Every time beverage companies tout their sustainability street cred, critics of the sector repeat what they say is a wide array of problems, from bottled water's cost compared to drinking water straight from the tap to the optics of drawing water in regions affected by drought.
To Evian’s credit, the brand has succeeded at showing that it can function as a more responsible company. Over the years, Evian has redesigned its bottle in a move to reduce the amount of materials consumed by its supply chain. Furthermore, while much of the process involved with the bottling of its water can now rely on automation, the company retrained its workers at one bottling plant so it would not have to reduce its workforce.
Nevertheless, Evian’s move will have to be matched by many companies if the global beverage and bottled water sector can reduce its overall environmental impact. As pointed out last year on publications such as Forbes, the world manufactures one million plastic bottles a minute – hence any closed loop system is going to have to cast an impossibly wide net.
Image credit: Mark Botham/Flickr
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He is also the Director of Social Media and Engagement for 3BL Media. His previous work can be found at The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. Kaye is based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.