Napcor, the trade association for the PET Packaging Industry in the United States, Canada and Mexico and Petcore Europe, representing the complete PET value chain in Europe, react on Formula 1’s plan to immediately start eliminating the use of plastic bottles by racetrack staff with the ultimate goal of doing away with all single-use plastics at the Grand Prix by 2025.
The associations state that 70% of water bottle, as well as carbonated soft drink and fruit juice bottle packaging, is made from PET, a 100% recyclable material and the world’s most commonly recycled plastic. It is likely the very type of recycled plastic used to make the 2021 credentials for F1 and FIA staff, teams, media, guests and fans.
In the US and Canada, the close to 1.6 billion pounds of recycled PET that displaces virgin material use in products results in total greenhouse gas emission savings equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off roadways annually. Eliminating bottles made from PET will likely necessitate a shift to alternative materials such as aluminium and glass, but these alternatives may actually increase the environmental impact. Life cycle studies have shown that the carbon footprint of a beverage container made with recycled PET can be 15% to 50% lower than its aluminium counterpart, say the assocations.
It has been demonstrated that good recycling policy aimed at increasing both collection of PET and incorporation of recycled PET into new products can transform what otherwise might be considered waste into a valuable material feedstock. Deposit return systems and minimum recycled content requirements, such as what has been legislated in California, create incentives on both the supply and demand sides for recycling, fostering a more circular economy.
Instead of eradicating the use of beverage containers made from the material needed to create event passes, the associations wonder why Formula 1 doesn’t set up recycling bins or receptacles around Grands Prix so that the bottles can be recovered and made into new products?
When recycled properly, PET bottles can be reprocessed for reuse, over and over, into millions of products. Formula 1 stated in its March 9 press release that approximately 143,275 plastic bottles were employed to make all of this year’s paddock passes. Imagine building a system whereby those recyclable PET bottles were recovered from staff, teams and guests and then—in keeping with Formula 1’s sustainability goal of reusing, recycling or composting all waste—those same bottles were manufactured into their passes for the following year.
Napcor und Petcore Europe encourage Formula 1 to contribute to the circular economy by collecting the PET used in its facilities rather than banning its use altogether.