Taking care of Fizz-ness – the innovative bubble technology that is helping the drinks industry to meet eco targets and save money during production

Posted on 3 May 2022 by The Manufacturer

A Yorkshire-based business that has spent the last few years developing pioneering bubble technology is helping beverage manufacturers and brands across the world to significantly reduce their carbon footprint and move closer towards net zero emissions targets. 

Experts at global business CO2Sustain are working closely with many UK and overseas businesses to stay on track in achieving their environmental targets despite spiralling costs.

From its manufacturing base in Leeds, CO2Sustain’s team of technical innovations chemists have pioneered the preservative-free, carbonation aid CO2Sustain®. 

Adding the solution-based ingredient to the beverage offers manufacturers and brands the ability to retain and extend carbonation, giving longer lasting fizzy drinks. 

Crucially, it also proactively aids the process of ‘light weighting’ a technique that aims to drastically reduce plastic consumption in the beverage industry. This is a feature that has become significantly more relevant especially in the UK where a new Plastic Packaging Tax has just been introduced. 

The new legislation declares that all plastic packaging components made or imported into the UK are liable for a material levy if they fail to meet a minimum recycled content of 30% by weight.

Many manufacturers were not fully prepared for the introduction of the tax when it was introduced on 1 April and a recent poll conducted by the FPA (Foodservice Packaging Association) found that 80% of its members were not geared up to meet the criteria at introduction. 

In addition to retaining carbonation, adding CO2Sustain®. during the production stage can make a significant difference to carbon footprint, reducing plastic usage and limiting water consumption through the various benefits it offers. 

Jonathan Stott, general manager of CO2Sustain. Credit: CO2Sustain
Jonathan Stott, general manager of CO2Sustain. Credit: CO2Sustain

Jonathan Stott, general manager of CO2Sustain, said: “Ensuring a sustainable future has never been more important, especially in the beverage industry where millions of single-use plastic bottles are produced, and a considerable amount of energy is used to do it. However, this isn’t as straightforward as it sounds as it has become more difficult and expensive because of the introduction of the Plastic Packaging Tax coupled with the scarcity and expense of carbon dioxide plus astronomical rises in raw materials, production, labour, equipment, energy and transport costs. 

“Our product offers a viable solution to many environmental challenges and has been specifically formulated to make sure drinks stay fizzy for longer, meaning less carbon dioxide is required in the first place and less is wasted. Presenting a solution that means less CO2 is required by any single business spells good news for both the drinks industry and the environment.”

As plastic is porous, gas leakage from plastic bottles over time is inevitable, capping carbonation shelf life for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) packaged drinks is sometimes as low as 10 weeks.  The problem has triggered mounting pressure on bottling manufacturers and beverage brands to reduce plastic usage and their environmental impact. Manufacturers and bottlers are further incentivised to cut down on plastic as they benefit from a substantial cost saving by using less increasingly expensive raw materials.

However, the thinner the plastic bottle, the more porous it becomes and the quicker the carbonated beverage will lose its fizz. This problem is made even worse when producing and distributing in hot climates, where refreshing drinks are in the highest demand, as the elevated temperatures exacerbate carbon dioxide loss. So despite saving money and resources in one area by reducing plastic usage, new obstacles are presented with carbonation shelf life cut shorter and wastage likely to increase. 

Added Jonathan: “Light weighting is good news for drinks companies and for the planet but for drinks manufacturers this creates a similar problem to using recycled plastic as the integrity of the PET walls of bottles is compromised and reduces carbonation shelf life. This has the undesirable effect of deterring the manufacturers from doing it.

“This is where the addition of our carbonation aid CO2 Sustain® during production makes a meaningful difference. Beverage businesses are free to produce drinks that use less plastic whilst maintaining the carbonation shelf life standard. With no impact on taste or appearance, our innovative non-silicone processing aid has the potential to contribute to massive waste reductions which is great news in the global battle against plastic pollution.”

CO2Sustain® currently works with drinks brands and manufacturers across four continents and is active in 25 countries across Europe, the United States and Latin America, India, Africa and the Middle East. Exports are growing at over 300 per cent annually. In 2020, the value of the UK soft drinks sector was estimated to be worth over £13.6 billion.

Concluded Jonathan: “CO2Sustain® was specifically developed to support the beverage industry and improve the consumer experience, but this doesn’t simply stop with taste and mouthfeel. We want to support sustainability, innovation and during this prolonged and very challenging economic climate, provide drinks brands with that little extra assistance to find the best planet-friendly eco solutions that work for them.”