Has a new era of eco-friendly bottling begun?

Posted: 27 March 2024 | | No comments yet

Melvin Jay unveils The Sustainable Bottling Co., presenting aluminum bottles as eco-conscious substitutes for plastic and how this can transform beverage packaging practices.


By Melvin Jay, Founder of GUNNA Drinks, The Sustainable Bottling Co. and Water Almighty.

On the back of a £1 million investment, the Founder of anti-plastic campaigning soda brand GUNNA Drinks, Melvin Jay has launched The Sustainable Bottling Co., a brand new aluminium bottling facility near Leicester. The 8,000 sq ft site is the first in the UK and Europe with the capabilities to bottle drinks in aluminium beyond water and, as well as bottling GUNNA’s own lemonades, will also offer white-label aluminium bottling to the broader industry.

This move aligns with the booming aluminium bottle market in the US, as seen via brands such as PepsiCo’s Proud Source Water. Jay has also announced the launch of a completely new water brand, Water Almighty – the first aluminium bottled, functional water in the UK, set to take on the scourge of plastic bottles on our shelves; this latest move from the business is set to capitalise on its new capabilities.

What does the current bottling landscape look like?  

Melvin Jay, founder of GUNNA Drinks, The Sustainable Bottling Co. and Water Almighty (MJ): Plastic bottles are a major culprit when it comes to single-use plastic waste. It is estimated that an average of 35.8 million plastic bottles are used every day in the UK, with only 19.8 million recycled.1 According to research by Greenpeace, less than 10 percent of the plastic that goes into recycling in the UK is recycled, while the majority is either incinerated, goes to landfills, or is shipped off abroad.2

Around 70 percent of soft drinks are bottled in damaging single-use plastic (SUP). In contrast, aluminium is infinitely recyclable, meaning that comparably, The Sustainable Bottling Co.’s offering has very strong environmental credentials.

In the USA, the market for water in aluminium bottles has grown rapidly to over $1 billion in the last few years (Source: Future Market Insights), with Proud Source Water leading the way, reaching revenues of over $300m in less than six years. The UK market for water in this bottle format is similarly set to explode, and The Sustainable Bottling Co. hopes to encourage this.


Why is this a sustainable step forward?

MJ: The Sustainable Bottling Co. will be able to produce bottles from 330ml to 750ml. The offering of an aluminium bottle versus the standard 330ml can that many drinks are currently packaged in also has exciting implications as it can house more liquid and mimics the footprint of a plastic bottle on the shelf. The 470ml bottle has the same on-shelf footprint as damaging single-use plastic water bottles, so offers an easy, planet-friendly switch.

sustainable bottle

The Sustainable Bottling Co. is a newly opened aluminium bottling facility near Leicester, England that has scope to produce bottles from 330ml to 750ml

This means it is also an easy like-for-like switch in terms of size and stock capacity and streamlines the industry transition away from plastic. The bottles, distinguished by their resealable caps, offer consumers the advantages of being able to refill and reuse or recycle, setting them apart from cans and providing a convenient on-the-go and sustainable option.


How does it positively impact the environment?  

MJ: Sustainability concerns play a pivotal role in shaping the evolution of packaging within the category, primarily driven by increased consumer awareness and growing concerns regarding the environmental impact of traditional plastic bottles. Consumers are increasingly aware of the climate implications of such packaging, with more than 70% of water currently sold in plastic bottles. The urgency to address these concerns is evident, as over 8 in 10 consumers, according to a survey by The Guardian, are actively striving to diminish their plastic waste. Remarkably, half of the respondents would be willing to pay more for products packaged in more eco-friendly materials, showing an incredibly strong market demand for sustainable alternatives. This collective consumer sentiment is putting pressure on brands to adopt packaging solutions that align with these expectations, encouraging a shift towards more environmentally friendly options within the bottle market.

A world wrapped in food packaging

Aluminium demonstrates noteworthy recyclability and keeps its properties through endless recycling cycles without weakening. When recycling a single aluminium can or bottle, suppliers can save  95 percent of the energy typically used in the initial manufacturing process and remove the need for any new materials to be mined or transported.3 Also, there is a significantly higher likelihood that aluminium bottles will be collected and recycled, preventing their contribution to landfills or oceans. Their durability helps them to withstand impact and rough handling, rendering them well-suited for repeated use. Meanwhile, in comparison to their plastic or glass counterparts, the production of aluminium bottles consumes less energy and resources. Aluminium also boasts a higher recycling rate and is widely accepted in recycling facilities globally. These attributes highlight the advantages of aluminium’s sustainability credentials as well as its usability.


What do you hope the bottling sector will take from this?

MJ: The team and I at The Sustainable Bottling Co. have invested heavily in this new planet-friendly packaging and although this comes at a premium, costing around 10 percent more than other formats, research resoundingly shows consumers are prepared to pay more to avoid plastic. Our offering will make it easier than ever before for brands to switch to an aluminium bottled format in place of the hugely damaging single-use plastic that is all too common. 

Aluminium bottles possess a sleek, contemporary aesthetic that resonates with environmentally conscious consumers seeking style and sustainability. The smooth exterior serves as a perfect backdrop for innovative branding and captivating designs, ensuring they stand out on shelves in retail and out-of-home outlets. 


From a personal and professional perspective, I’m a passionate advocate of sustainability, and it’s something that’s been at the heart of the GUNNA Drinks brand for the last six years. So, it’s incredibly exciting to launch The Sustainable Bottling Co. and offer the industry access to significantly more planet-friendly bottling. We believe aluminium bottles are the future. We’ve put significant investment in place to bring this vision to life, and we know that sustainable packaging is something that brands, retailers and shoppers are all actively looking for. There are far-reaching needs across the FMCG industry for aluminium bottling, and we can’t wait to start fulfilling these and helping to reduce the drinks sector’s reliance on harmful single-use plastic bottles. The potential environmental ramifications here are huge, and we’re excited to be able to make responsibly sourced and sustainable packaging more accessible.





About the author

Melvin Jay is the Founder of GUNNA Drinks, The Sustainable Bottling Co. and Water Almighty.