New facility in New Zealand sees water packaged in recycled plastic bottles

The opening of a new multi-million-dollar production line in Waikato will see a significant proportion of New Zealand’s still bottled water packaged in recycled plastic bottles.

The new production line, at the country’s largest water bottling facility in Pokeno, is capable of producing 220 million bottles made from recycled PET (rPET) plastic annually.

NZ Drinks director Kyle Osborne said the move was part of a long term journey towards a more sustainable product.

“As New Zealand’s largest bottled water producer we felt it was our responsibility to introduce the latest raw material and manufacturing technology as an important step towards creating a more sustainable industry,” said Osborne. 

READ: Market saturation hinders bottled water’s growth in China

“In theory, there is no limit to the number of times the plastic from a bottle of water can be recycled into new products – what we are missing in NZ is the infrastructure necessary to achieve this,” he said. 

“Currently the economies of scale needed to introduce a suitable recycling facility are not there and Kiwis simply don’t consume enough of this type of product to make it viable – which leaves us out of step with bigger international markets such as Australia,” said Osborne. 

NZ Drinks director Tony Vesper said the use of rPET should become the standard for still bottled water in New Zealand. 

“With annual sales across our portfolio increasing at 139 per cent, our Pure NZ label is the country’s fastest growing still water brand and will now be packaged in 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles,” said Vesper. 

“We first introduced recycled plastic into some of our ranges two years ago but the new line will allow us to continue to expand production of bottled water in recycled packaging, while at the same time substantially improving efficiency by reducing the weight of rPet used per bottle,” he said. 

“The new line uses the latest technology from Krones, Germany and is capable of forming around 28,000 600ml bottles from recycled raw material and then filling them with water – every hour,” said Vesper. 

The ultimate goal was to see an industry that was capable of capturing consumer waste like empty plastic bottles and continuously reusing them, he said. 

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