Europe's bottled water producers set a goal on Tuesday of raising collection rates of plastic bottles to 90 percent by 2025 from 60 percent to improve recycling and cut pollution.
"Our packaging today is part of the unacceptable phenomenon of littering alongside other discarded items," the European Federation of Bottled Waters said in a statement.
The Federation, which represents national associations and several major companies, said the new industry goal was to collect 90 percent of all PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles by 2025, as an average across the European Union.
Almost 60 percent of PET bottles are now collected for recycling, although with big national variations. The Federation did not say exactly how the goal would be achieved, nor did it give costs.
Some countries such as Germany impose high deposits on bottles to encourage recycling. Britain plans this year to introduce a deposit return scheme for single-use drink containers.
The Federation also said it would work with the recycling industry "to use at least 25 percent recycled PET in its water bottles by 2025, as an EU average". It says that the average EU citizen drinks about 110 litres of bottled water a year.
“Building on our longstanding sustainable approach to resource management, we are committed to achieving these industry-wide actions," said EFBW President Jean-Pierre Deffis.
"PET drink bottles already achieve the highest recycling rate of any plastic packaging material in the EU. But even one bottle ending up as litter is one too many. [...] It will take a concerted, coordinated effort from many different value-chain actors to drive positive change. EFBW’s members are stepping up to lead the way.”