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The Real Reason For Snapple's "Sustainable" Transition From Iconic Glass to Plastic Bottles

Updated: Feb 5

A quick twist and a satisfying “pop”.

That’s what faithful Snapple consumers used to expect when they purchased the iconic glass Snapple bottle. But as of 2018, Snapple consumers find their favorite iced tea products packaged in a plastic bottle with a plastic label.

After all this time, you may have been wondering why there has been a change in bottling materials. We will look deeper into the reasons for this sudden change.

Snapple's Sustainable Transition

Consumers initially reported some confusion over the transition, but according to Snapple, this transition to plastic was actually a sustainability-backed decision. Despite consumer hesitation, Snapple sales from 2018 to 2019 remained steady at 54.6 million cases each year.

Founded in 1972, the Snapple beverage company has been one of America’s leading retailers of single-serving iced tea drinks and the second-largest seller of fruit drinks. But Snapple didn’t actually see its massive success until 1980, when they began introducing their iced tea flavors. Sales began to double nearly every year as Snapple slowly introduced more and more flavors of their claimed “healthy” and “natural” beverages.

While new Snapple flavors were continually being introduced, one thing remained consistent:

Snapple's glass bottle, until 2018, that is.

Here are a few things this new packaging has accomplished for the Snapple brand.

Snapple Plastic Bottle

Snapple claims that their new plastic bottle is made from 100% recycled plastic material. Further claiming that the Snapple team uses 75% less energy when making their bottles than if they were using virgin plastic and preventing the need for 600 million new plastic bottles yearly. By reusing plastic for their bottles, Snapple is actively preventing plastic from ending up in landfills, oceans, and rivers.

Snapple's Sustainable Transition

Regarding their new shrink-sleeve plastic label, Snapple states that their artwork is printed with washable inks, which could allow the label to be recycled and used again for other purposes. The label is also printed with instructions on properly recycling the product.

In addition to these changes, Snapple reports that their new plastic bottle is made with 80% less material than their traditional glass bottles. This decrease in material means that the bottle is lighter, allowing more to fit per case and more cases to fit per truck. And more cases per truck decreases the number of trucks the Snapple team uses. Snapple further claims that fewer trucks used by the Snapple team means less toxic CO2 emissions may be released into the atmosphere each year.

All these efforts made by the Snapple team are made in accordance with the principle that many are starting to follow: that plastic, in and of itself, is not "evil" but could possibly be used as a resource for accomplishing what many have considered the more sustainable economy: a circular economy.

Circular Economy

According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, a circular economy is a system where products and materials are kept in circulation through processes like maintenance, reuse, refurbishment, remanufacture, recycling, and composting.

Snapple's Sustainable Transition

Much of the world operates through a linear economy where materials are sourced, used, and finished. According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, the ideal economy would be one where we can stop waste from being produced in the first place, such as a circular economy.

By operating within a circular economy, things such as climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution could become manageable issues as we utilize the finite resources around us. Most importantly, the circular economy benefits businesses, people, and the environment.

Snapple’s new plastic bottles seem to be exactly what a circular economy calls for. The bottles are manufactured from an existing plastic, not a virgin material. The bottles then can be recycled and reused, remaining within the circular economy rather than being dumped and becoming waste. That is, if consumers continue to follow the recycling instructions.

Snapple new bottle design

All this, in addition to the plastic bottles’ lightweight nature, is the reason for Snapple’s transition to plastic bottles.

Consumers care more about sustainability than ever before. In fact, 60% of consumers reported that they’d be willing to pay more for a product if it was using sustainable packaging. But with the looming fear of greenwashing, consumers ought to be skeptical.

What do you think about Snapple’s controversial transition from glass to plastic? Based on all the information provided by the Snapple team, are you convinced it was truly a sustainable move? And will it affect your future purchasing decisions?



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