TODAY IS DAY ONE. BUT SO IS TOMORROW. AND THE NEXT DAY.

Every day is an opportunity to create change – and that’s exactly what we plan to do.

Our glass Mini Gin Bottle is becoming PET plastic. But don’t freak out. PET is destined for more than life in a landfill.

After working with PETCO our eyes have been opened. In a nutshell, well-designed PET bottles can be recycled into brand new bottles and other useful things like duvet inners, carpets, furniture, clothing, and more, so that less goes to the dump. Not only does PET allow us to reduce the burden on landfills, switching from glass to PET has resulted in a 66% reduction in our carbon emissions too.

To help close the loop and make creating change easier, we’re setting up Sugarbird Gin recycling bins where you can drop off our Mini Gin Bottles and other PET plastic bottles. We’ve also collab’ed with SA Artists and our partners at Uzwelo to create a collection of Sugarbird Day One bags made from recycled PET plastic bottles.

We’ll answer any questions and we’ll be completely transparent through this new, confusing, and exciting process. Here’s to change. Cheers!

Accordion Content

Since we started back in 2017, our aim has always been to create an accessible craft gin. Why? Because as a proudly South African gin company, we’re inspired by the people of our country so everything we do has them in mind. We wanted to create a high quality product, while offering value for money, and constantly finding new ways that people can enjoy our gin.

Having launched our business by raising over R1 million through crowdfunding and breaking all SA crowdfunding records at the time – innovation has always been at our core. This transition of our mini from glass to PET is no different. We had two objectives in mind: A) reducing our environmental impact and B) reducing costs to our consumer.

Because we aren’t the experts. We went out and found them.

Strategic Waste Solutions did our value stream analysis. In this process, you look at the entire collection of activities that take place to produce and deliver a product or service. We are then able to determine which activities have a positive impact, which create waste, and where our opportunities are for improvement. The results have proven that switching our glass mini to PET will not only reduce waste to landfill, it also lowers our carbon emissions (which is one of the greatest influencers of climate change) by 66%!

We then partnered with PETCO, the PET plastic recycling company NPC, a company that’s committed to ensuring that PET recycling is possible throughout South Africa by educating businesses, consumers and everyone in between, while developing the South African recycling infrastructure. This is where we learnt more about Extended Producer Responsibility, which is a way of thinking that puts the responsibility on the producer to manage the disposal of the products they produce once the products are no longer seen as useful by consumers. This made us start looking internally to uncover what we can do as a brand to take responsibility for our output beyond making our product.

So changing over to PET was just beginning. According to PETCO, South Africa has one of the highest audited PET bottle recycling rates in the world – 63%! This is something to be proud of. But we wanted to help increase that number even more. To make it easier for people to recycle their PET bottles, and to add to the SA recycling infrastructure, we’re setting up recycling bins at select stores. Day One is an initiative to encourage recycling of all PET plastic bottles, not just our Sugarbird Mini. Any PET plastic bottle that is dropped off will either become a new Sugarbird bottle or will be turned into recycled PET products. It’s our way of closing the loop, helping consumers make a difference, and making sure that we have the lightest footprint possible.

To make this possible, we partnered with Extrupet, one of the largest and most advanced recyclers of PET bottle materials in Africa; and Uzwelo Bags is an organisation that creates products out of recycled PET while training and uplifting women in Kwa-Zulu Natal communities.

Like we said, this is just the beginning. There is so much more to learn. As available technology and materials advance, we will too. Today is Day One. But so is tomorrow and the next day. Every day is an opportunity to create change, and that’s exactly what we plan to do. So take this step with us and let’s do it together.

If you have any questions, comments, or advice, drop us a message at the bottom of this site and we’ll get in touch.

This is not your average, landfill-clogging plastic. PET, or Polyethylene Terephthalate, is a versatile material that’s globally recognised as safe and 100% recyclable when designed correctly. It’s actually the most recycled packaging on the shelves today, both locally and globally.

PET packaging is so versatile, because it’s safe, strong, shatterproof and is 100% recyclable into PET products when well-designed. This means that your soft drinks, bottled water, milk, juice, energy drinks, and now Sugarbird Mini Gin bottles can be recycled over and over again into new bottles – instead of creating new bottles using 100% virgin PET. Recycled PET is also used to make carpets, furniture, in construction, and even to make handbags (which we’re doing too, read more here!) 

A few facts:

– PETCO has recycled over 700,000 tonnes of bottles since their inception in 2004.
– More bottles are now recycled than go to landfill.
– Recycling bottles decreases the need for raw materials and saves energy.
– Over 1 million tonnes of carbon have been saved to date.
– 4,4 million m2  of landfill space has been saved through recycling PET plastic bottles to date.
– R6,7 billion has been injected into the economy to date through products made from recycled PET plastic bottles. 
– In 2018, 68,000 income opportunities were created through recycling PET plastic bottles.

Phew, that was a mouthful. Credit: PETCO

We didn’t move to “plastic” in a rush. We looked into compostable bottles, but they aren’t safe for alcoholic beverages. Biodegradable plastics take a long time to break down and only under very specific conditions – sadly there are only a handful of facilities that do this in South Africa. Until more advanced options reach our shores, PET was a way for us to reduce our footprint and close the loop. Because well-designed PET is widely recycled to become new bottles and down-cycled to become a whole range of recycled PET products, we’ve been able to create a Circular Economy, while reducing bottles to landfill. 

PETCO FACT: 4,4 million m2  of landfill space has been saved through recycling PET plastic bottles.

A closed-loop system encourages companies and people to treat products as resources, not as trash. To make sure every part of our bottle was recyclable, we had to go back to the drawing board and redesign it. There’s no point in using recyclable PET if the rest of the bottle isn’t recyclable. So we needed to change our label, the glue we use to stick it on, and we needed to make sure that the cap could be removed easily, because PET and metals can’t be recycled together. We know that there are even better ways to design for recycling, and we are constantly working towards them – this is just the beginning. To find out more about more about PETCO’s design for recycling guidelines clickity click here.

In its absolute simplest form, scientists will cringe when they read this, recycling PET goes like this:

PET bottles are collected by the public, informal waste collectors, and formal recycling businesses. These go to places like ExtruPET, and other PET Recyclers, where they’re cleaned and sorted into their colours and are broken down into little flakes. The clear flakes go off to become new PET bottles. Most of the other colourful flakes are sent to Propet where they are spun into fibres and are then destined for fashion, furniture, pillows, carpets and more. We will be using this recycled PET to create a range of bags – you can read more below.

What’s important for us, is that if we’re asking people to recycle, we want to help them do it. There are many recycling bins across the country, but we’re adding our own Sugarbird PET recycling bins to ensure we help close the loop and to help make recycling and option for more South Africans.

If you want more detail about the process, we’re going to leave it to the professionals. Watch this 3 minute video made by our partners at PETCO to see how it all goes down.

You wouldn’t believe how much STUFF around you is made from recycled PET. Clothes. Carpets. Accessories. Pillows. Furniture. Roof insulation. Buildings. And so, so much more. Recycled PET products are functional, cost-effective, and lessen waste to landfill. Many businesses are both profiting and helping to make a difference by using this sustainable material.

One business is Uzwelo Bags, who make recycled PET felt bags, while creating entrepreneurial opportunities by training and uplifting women in Kwa-Zulu Natal communities. We’ve partnered with them to create a unique Sugarbird collection of recycled PET bags.

A few facts:

– In every m2 of PET felt, there are roughly 15 recycled bottles.
– It reduces the need for non-renewable resources like oil and fossil fuels by using recycled materials.
– Saves carbon emissions, water and energy and has significantly less environmental impact than virgin fibre.
– The entire process from raw material to fabric is 100% local, ensuring the support of the South African economy, the local textile industry, the circular economy and recycling economy.

The sales of our Sugarbird Day One Bag Collection goes straight towards production costs. We’re not trying to make a profit, we’re trying to create change. Scroll down and click the link below to buy your recycled PET picnic basket, backpack or handbag.

Download this infographic to keep on your phone while you shop and near your recycling bin.

A traditional linear economy goes: make something, use it, throw it away. In a closed-loop system and circular economy, the same materials can be used over and over again to create new products. It’s a way to conserve natural resources and stop waste going to landfill. The Circular Economy encourages companies and people to treat products as resources, not as trash.

How’s Sugarbird getting involved?

1. By using recycled PET we tap into a resource that’s already in circulation to create our bottles and we reduce the amount of virgin PET used in our products. 
2. We’re setting up our Sugarbird Gin recycling bins, so that there are even more places to drop off your PET so we can close the loop and contribute to the Circular Economy.
3. We’ll recycle clear PET bottles into new Mini Gin Bottles and other PET bottles into our 100% recyclable PET bag collection in partnership with Uzwelo Bags.

The Artists behind our 100% recycled PET Bag Collection

MOTHER

Ruschka Du Toit Gird

Our connection to nature is undeniable, but often forgotten. As we become more aware of how our lifestyle impacts the environment and in turn, our lives, we must accept that it’s our responsibility to protect the source of all – Mother Nature. This artwork represents our connection to Mother Nature, recognising and acknowledging how she serves us and how, with our choices, we’ve harmed that which nourishes.
 
Ruschka Du Toit Gird is an artist, designer, and illustrator from Cape Town, South Africa, who works from her home studio while listening to true crime podcasts with her cat. She’s passionate about working with people and brands who value authenticity and want to build community through everything they do. Why? Because life is too short for anything but genuine connection. Ruschka adds emotional depth and strong intuition to every project she takes on and her style can be described as expressive, naive and feminine.

ANIMAL SPIRIT

Boineelo Cassandra Modise

It’s time for people to stand up and strive for what they believe in. We all need to fight for a better future, better planet and peace. It’s not easy, but small internal and external changes create bigger and better solutions. We just need to take a leap of faith knowing that we may fail, which is perfectly okay, because we can try again. This artwork represents the human being facing what the world brings to the table – and conquering it step-by-step, day-by-day. It’s about living your life to the fullest today, but never forgetting to invest in the future.
 
Boineelo Cassandra Modise, known as Neelo, spent her childhood in a village between Taung and Vryburg in the North West Province of South Africa. She didn’t have the opportunity to study art during her formative years, so she moved to Cape Town in 2015 to complete her education and pursue her career. Neelo is drawn to patterning and simple line work. As a self-taught artist, she experiments with different styles, textures and techniques; and is inspired by the little moments of everyday life, architecture, the internet, and mostly, nature.

ANIMAL SPIRIT

Boineelo Cassandra Modise

It’s time for people to stand up and strive for what they believe in. We all need to fight for a better future, better planet and peace. It’s not easy, but small internal and external changes create bigger and better solutions. We just need to take a leap of faith knowing that we may fail, which is perfectly okay, because we can try again. This artwork represents the human being facing what the world brings to the table – and conquering it step-by-step, day-by-day. It’s about living your life to the fullest today, but never forgetting to invest in the future.
 
Boineelo Cassandra Modise, known as Neelo, spent her childhood in a village between Taung and Vryburg in the North West Province of South Africa. She didn’t have the opportunity to study art during her formative years, so she moved to Cape Town in 2015 to complete her education and pursue her career. Neelo is drawn to patterning and simple line work. As a self-taught artist, she experiments with different styles, textures and techniques; and is inspired by the little moments of everyday life, architecture, the internet, and mostly, nature.

AMBITION, BLOSSOMS

Keith Vhalakis

Ambition, Blossoms is an retro pop-art piece that weaves together typography and illustration through the organic shapes, colours, and lines of Fynbos flowers. A Go Getter is a person whose ambition and entrepreneurial spirit is central to who they are. They’re driven to create the world that they believe in and will stop at nothing to make their dreams a reality.
 
Illustrator, street artist and pop artist Keith Vlahakis has lived between Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, South Africa. He describes himself as a proliferator of good vibes. His signature style is inspired by a mixture of classic serif looped typography, pop-art aesthetics, popular culture, and comic books – combined and re-interpreted through a nostalgic, street art lens.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

If you have any questions, comments, ideas, or if you want to help share our story and make a difference let us know. We’ll get back to you with any info we have, and if we don’t have it, we’ll find out. This is all a learning process for us and we’ll be completely transparent (just like our bottles) along the way.

WHERE CAN I recycle MY PET PLASTIC?

RECYCLE AND WIN.

For a chance to win Sugarbird Gin prizes, drop off your PET Plastic at one of our recycling bins, take a selfie, share with the hashtag #DayOneForChange and tag @sugarbirdgin – that’s it, you’re entered!

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