US & Global Economic Impact Analysis and Forecasts

Freedonia analysts and economists are sharing their insights on how major events are impacting different parts of the US and global economies.

Everything Old is New Again… Refillable Beverage Containers

Americans used to live in a world with milk bottles that were delivered full and collected empty. Americans used to live in a world where glass beverage bottles were collected and returned for a deposit and then refilled.

There are still parts of the country and certain local milk processors, breweries, and soda pop suppliers that work with glass bottles which are meant to be used and then returned, washed, and refilled for the next customers.

Major beverage suppliers have long switched to single-use beverage containers, which are meant to be recycled but not reused in its same form. However, recently Coca-Cola announced that it would have a quarter of its drinks sold globally in refillable packaging by the end of the decade. Outside the US, the company is also on the way to this goal by using its “universal” plastic bottles designed to be reused by Coke, Fanta, and other Coca-Cola beverage brands after cleaning and the application of a new label.

Reusable plastic bottles don’t have the same long life of glass bottles which can be reused five times before being melted down to make new glass bottles. However, the light weight and unbreakability of reusable plastic bottles has other advantages for sustainability of good customer experience.

The challenge is making sure the needed infrastructure is in place to collect, store, track, and wash resuable bottles or other containers. As TerraCycle’s Loop program and others expand and proliferate, that infrastructure will be more readily available with perfected processes.

Of course, regulations will play a key role in developing a functional resuable container program again…from bans of single-use packaging types to extended producer responsibility plans to container deposit mandates. Of course, increasing attention from investors who are holding companies to verifiable sustainability targets will provide another layer of pressure. In the end, there needs to be a business case for these programs to spread more widely, with cost advantages and consumer preferences making the move undeniable.

Ultimately, previous generations lived in a less disposable world…it can happen again.

Freedonia analysts will continue to monitor these trends in consumer preferences, governmental regulations, and business sustainability goals and targets as well as the variety of other factors that impact packaging trends.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly in the Packaging area. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Consumer Goods      Packaging