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In yet another rejection of plastic packaging by a major brand, Cotton On Foundation, in partnership with Wallaby Water, has launched Australia's first bottled water in resealable aluminium packaging.

The bottled water is rolling out nationwide, with 100 per cent of proceeds contributing to quality education projects in Uganda, South Africa, Thailand and Australia, according to Cotton On Foundation.

Shining example: new aluminium bottle from Cotton On Foundation and Wallaby Water.
Shining example: new aluminium bottle from Cotton On Foundation and Wallaby Water.

The packaging, comprising 70 per cent recycled aluminium, is claimed to be the first of its kind in Australia. Cotton On Foundation says the new pack “will compete against plastic, cartons and glass packaging as Australia’s most recycled and most recyclable packaging alternative for bottled water”. 

Ninety-one per cent of Australian households have access to kerbside recycling that accepts aluminium cans, and 70 per cent of cans will make it to a recycling facility, according to Cotton On Foundation.

 

The group says that the aluminium water bottle is infinitely recyclable without material loss, meaning the creation of new aluminium products uses just 5 per cent of the energy required to make new aluminium. “Over time, recycling aluminium saves energy and reduces the product’s carbon footprint through repeated cycles.”

Dominic Goldsworthy, founder and director of Wallaby Water, said: “Wallaby aims to play a role in Australia's transformation to a circular economy by encouraging greater resource recovery and waste avoidance by using 100 per cent and infinitely recyclable aluminium cans and bottles. Above all else, our brand is a mouthpiece for education and awareness about the problems caused by discarded plastic and the benefits of aluminium packaging.”

Cotton On Foundation stated: “Currently, over a million plastic beverage bottles are sold every minute worldwide, amassing a huge 525.6 billion bottles per year. While Cotton On Foundation is entirely dedicated to empowering youth through the delivery of quality educational projects, it recognises that one good thing should not come at the cost of another… our planet!”

“At Cotton On Foundation, we want to create a better world for the next generation. One simple step to do this is on a personal level is to always have your own reusable water bottle, but when you’re caught out and didn’t bring one, we now provide our customers with a bottle that’s not only better for the environment but changes lives… encouraging a world without single use plastic,” said Tim Diamond, general manager of Cotton On Foundation.

The introduction of this new aluminium bottle will save an estimated 40 tonnes of plastic per year in Australia.

“An iconic product in the Cotton On Foundation range, to date our water bottle has raised a significant amount of funds that have contributed to our global education programs. We’ve been on a journey over the past few years and our customers and team members have challenged us to find a more sustainable water bottle. Aluminium, with its high rate of recyclability has definitely been welcomed by customers and team members alike,” said Jade Slater, head of product for Cotton On Foundation. 

The new bottle is set to raise an additional $1 million (AUD) for the foundation’s education programs in Uganda, South Africa, Thailand and Australia.

Following Cotton On Foundation's announcement of the move, Food & Drink Business stablemate PKN asked the team a few important questions:

Q: Who is bottling the water? Where is it bottled?

 A: We are on a journey to find local suppliers in each region. 

The new bottle is the first of its kind in Australia, the initial trial saw us use an established supplier in the USA and we will be using the same supplier for when we launch in the US market. Come next year we will look to locally produce the bottle in Australia.

Q: Who is manufacturing the aluminium bottles for you?

A: Australian can-makers currently offer no local manufacturing capability for aluminium bottles. Our bottles use approximately 50% less aluminium compared to other aluminium bottles currently on the market.

Ball Corp in the USA is one of only three suppliers in the world with the capability to manufacture the uniquely lightweight bottles, lessening the environmental impact for final distribution. 

Q: Where is the 70% recycled aluminium material sourced? 

A: A significant portion of recycled material comes from post-consumer collection and recovery in the USA; in the USA 50% of aluminium cans are recycled and the average can contains 73% recycled content – the highest average recycled content of any beverage container on the market.

 Q: Aluminium is collected kerbside yes, but is it recycled onshore?

Currently, only a small percentage of aluminium is recycled locally in Australia, however, when comparing the material recovery process, 70,000 tonnes (53%) of Australia’s PET, and 55,000 tones (77%) of all polymer-coated paperboard (cartons) went directly to landfill, compared to just 18% of all aluminium. 

The post-consumer aluminium beverage can recovery rate is the highest of all packaging, and with the launch of the new bottle in Cotton On Group stores, we are encouraging all customers to do their bit and recycle to help further increase the post-consumer recovery rate.

Q: How does the weight of the aluminium bottle compare to that of PET – especially when it comes to the carbon footprint of transporting the filled item from factory to shelf?

Our new bottle is the lightest aluminium bottle in the world for its volume and although there was a slight increase to the weight per unit from the previous PET bottle, the bottle is now entirely and infinitely recyclable – lid and all.

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