When it comes to living more sustainably and ultimately creating a circular economy, ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ (in that order) is a mantra that really makes sense to adopt.
At Belu, we’ve always worked hard to reduce the packaging weight, bulk and carbon intensity of our drinks and even though mineral water is our core product, we still champion drinking tap water or filtered water and using refillables above single use, because of the reduction in waste.
All of our drinks are packaged using materials which have industry leading recycling credentials. Lightweight, ethical glass with at least 40% recycled content for starters, 100% recycled pet for our grab and go bottles – and all our bottles are recyclable too.
So we’re ahead of the game with ‘Reduce’ and ‘Recycle’ with plans to get even better. And now we’re very excited to report that we’ve taken a giant ‘Reuse’ step forward too.
Over the last six months, we’ve been working with the team at ‘Again’ to trial a reuse process for our glass mineral water bottles. Again’s two revolutionary, London based CleanCells have the capacity to receive 250k units of packaging per month, cleaning and sterilising them so they can be refilled and reused – rather than recycled and reformed.
Glass is infinitely reusable in principle but is also prone to breaking and scuffing if not handled carefully, so one of the challenges Again has faced has been refining their process to keep bumps and breakages to a minimum. The exact number of times our mineral water bottles will be able to be reused remains to be seen – but the process looks to be full of potential and we’re delighted to be partnering with doorstep delivery trailblazers ‘Milk & More’ to bring the concept to life.
Of course, reusing glass bottles is not a new idea. The milk floats of the 70s had the market wrapped up and leaving your empty bottles on the doorstep was second nature. But Milk & More has brought a timely and innovative refresh to the milk round, offering an extensive range of essentials and treats with a focus on brands that operate using sustainable and ethical practices. We’re very happy to be listed alongside Daylesford Organics, Fill, Tom Parker Creamery, River Cottage and more – and delighted that Milk & More customers can now buy their Belu still and sparkling mineral water, as well as milk, shampoo and hand soap in reusable bottles – and then have them whisked away to the Again CleanCell so they’re ready for refilling.
The guiding principles of a circular economy are rethinking the concept of ‘waste’ by using products and materials which are safe for human health and the environment and which can be reused continually. Also wherever possible: reuse, repair, refurbish, re-manufacture and recycle to create ‘closed-loop’ systems which essentially means there is no waste.
As part of our Reuse project, we’ve developed a CleanCell friendly wash-off label which won’t clog the process and can be recycled.
It also identifies our bottles as ‘reusable’ so customers can easily see they’re part of Milk & More’s reusable range and hopefully will help people remember to leave them out on the doorstep for collection, rather than putting them into the regular recycling. Add this to Belu’s other recycling credentials and the social enterprise structure which has delivered £5.5m to WaterAid since 2011 to transform lives with clean water, and we’re really starting to look like a truly sustainable business.
We’re still busily crunching the numbers relating to this new project. Yes, there are definitely logistical impact considerations, like emissions and cost. The aim, as Milk & More’s reusable bottle volumes increase, is to site a CleanCell at their core distribution centre, thus reducing both. There is also the overall water and energy footprint to monitor. As the reuse process has been developed with sustainability (and a fleet of electric vehicles) at its core, it’s surprisingly low intensity and the Again team are dedicated to continued improvement. We’re looking forward to learning more (and reporting progress, CO2e reduction and key stats) as our bottles begin to move through the cycle, so watch this space.
To order Belu mineral water in reusable bottles at Milk & More : CLICK HERE