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innocent drinks

Fruit Towers

Canal Building

342 Ladbroke Grove

London W10 5BU
 

(The entry gate is on Kensal Road. Just in case you thought you had to scale the fence.)

map & directions

map & directions

click for map

buses: 6, 18, 23, 28, 52, 70,
187, 228, 295, 316, 452

tube: ladbroke grove or
kensal green

Ta Da. Welcome to the land of Frequently Asked Questions.

Here your questions will be answered, queries solved, problems whisked away. We have split them into sections so you can find what you're looking for quick sharp. Enjoy.

Things we make

How do you make your orange juice?

We squeeze eleven juicy oranges into every one of our orange juice carafes. We source our oranges from the main orange growing regions of the world and hand-pick and squeeze our oranges within 24 hours. Just like tea, the secret to great tasting juice is in the blend and we use a carefully selected mix of different orange varieties to achieve the perfect blend. We gently pasteurise our juice (a bit like milk) to make sure it’s safe to drink and ship it to the UK for bottling.

Does your juice contain anything else but oranges?

innocent orange juice is made from nothing but oranges and you can rest assured that there is nothing in there that isn’t in an orange. In fact, you'll notice that the taste of our juice varies naturally throughout the year depending on the different orange seasons - that's just the way oranges are.

Why are your drinks pasteurised?

There are two types of pasteurisation, UHT (Ultra Heat Treatment) and a gentler version. We use the latter (which is shorter and at a lower temperature) in order to knock out any potentially harmful bacteria. Gentle pasteurisation is the best way to ensure safety of our drinks without significantly impacting their taste or nutritional content.

What's the difference between not from concentrate and concentrated juice?

Not from concentrate juice is made using oranges that have been hand-picked and squeezed within 24 hours. Then the juice is gently pasteurised for safety reasons (a bit like milk) and then shipped to the UK for bottling. By making an NFC juice we can use the best tasting oranges, and provide a delicious tasting juice at an affordable price.

From concentrate juice is made from concentrates. Concentrates are made by taking orange juice, heating it to a very high temperature and evaporating off the water. This leaves a thick syrup that's a small proportion of the original volume (as low as 12% with oranges). When the drums of concentrated juice arrive at their destination, water is added back to restore the juice to its original volume. As a result a concentrated juice will often taste 'cooked'.

How and where are your smoothies made?

We want to make the best quality drinks with the lowest possible carbon impact. To do so, we buy the best ingredients there are and then find the most carbon-efficient way of getting them to our drinkers. We have a policy of moving our ingredients by land or sea only; we will not air freight them.

Our ingredients come from three main geographical areas - the UK, continental Europe and the Tropics. The tropical fruit arrives in Holland via Rotterdam, Europe's main fruit port, and is blended in Holland with the European fruit on a daily basis. We then put the blended fruit into tankers (the same as used for transporting fresh milk) and bring it by boat or rail from Holland to the UK.  The tankers come to the UK ports that are closest to our bottling sites (our main sites are in Wales and Somerset) to minimise transporting by road in the UK. We then blend these ingredients with the locally squeezed fruits (eg our lemons and limes) and other local ingredients at our UK co-packing plants and then deliver the smoothies to our customers. All of this happens six days a week, as we don't squeeze and blend on Sundays in the UK. This way of blending part of our smoothies in Europe with the European fruit and then in the UK with the other fruit and ingredients means that we minimise the amount of energy used in transporting our ingredients, ensuring we get the best drinks for the least carbon.

Where did I put my keys?

They're behind your commemorative Wedgwood Queen Mother ornament.

Where do you get your fruit?

In all honesty, it's quicker to tell you where we don't get our fruit from. We don't get any fruit from Finland, Libya or Hong Kong. We do follow the sun around the world - in spring our oranges come from countries such as Jamaica, Egypt and Morocco, whereas in summer they are sourced from countries like Brazil, South Africa and Argentina. Our blueberries are from Canada, our mangoes are from India and our strawberries are from Poland. We don't see any particular reason why we shouldn't use the best possible fruit in all of our drinks - if you can think of one, please let us know.

How are babies made?

When Mummy and Daddy have special hugs, Mummy sometimes whispers a magic word to Daddy. When Daddy hears the magic word, he feels very happy and in a few seconds they will have ordered a baby, a bit like shopping on the internet.

Why should I buy your drinks instead of another brand?

Other brands use concentrates, preservatives, water and sugar whereas we like to put our effort into selecting the best tasting fruit. We only use the best tasting varieties in our drinks. We use a carefully selected blend to achieve the right balance of freshness, sweetness and deliciously fruity flavour in every recipe. Our drinks regularly win in blind taste tests against other brands, taste them for yourself and see.

We also work with all of our fruit farmers to make sure that they look after both their workers and the environment. To achieve this we have created our own set of minimum standards that detail our expectations for social and environmental issues. We are continually working with all of our suppliers to help them implement this agreed action plan. And on top of all of that hard work, we give 10% of profits to our charitable foundation, so that when we go to bed at night we can feel proud of the drinks we've made.

How should I look after and store your drinks?

Please please please keep our drinks cold. We can't stress that enough. Because we don't use any preservatives that might make them last a bit longer, they need to be well cared for.

They should be stored between 0-5° C, which, luckily enough, is the temperature of your average fridge. So stick them in the chiller as soon as you get home from the shops, or if you're saving a bit for later, don't leave it on your desk - pop it back in the fridge for a while.

Once opened, we reckon our drinks are best drunk on the same day, although as previously mentioned you should refrigerate them between sips.

If you leave them out of the fridge, they will eventually start to ferment. This is a completely safe, natural process but it means the smoothie goes fizzy. It normally causes tiny bubbles in the drink.

If you suspect a drink to be fermented, please dispose of the contents of the bottle and contact us at hello@innocentdrinks.co.uk or call the banana phone on 020 8600 3939 with details about the bottle or carton and its enjoy by date.

So, please do keep our smoothies nice and cold.

How long do they last?

Because we don't use preservatives or stabilisers they generally last about as long as a pint of milk. Please always keep them chilled and drink them within four days of opening.

Can I freeze your smoothies?

Our smoothies are made of nothing but whole crushed fruit and pure juices, so it's completely safe to freeze them. However, we don't really recommend it because they taste much better fresh. To be more specific, bananas don't freeze well; when they defrost they go brown and a bit slimy. Check out this picture of a fresh banana and one that's defrosted. We know which we would rather drink.

If you do decide to freeze one of our smoothies, please make sure you defrost it in the fridge so it stays chilled at all times and note that this might take as long as 3 days. You should also drink it on the day of defrosting.

What is love?

Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more.

Do you have any drinks that don't contain banana?

Our kiwi, apples & limes smoothie (also available in 1.25l and 750ml cartons) is completely banana free. As are our apple and orange juice.

Are your products organic?

No they're not organic. We want to minimise pesticide and other agrochemical usage on our fruit, and this is one of the requirements of both the Rainforest Alliance and also the innocent minimum standards for our fruit growers. Both sets of standards also ban the use of any of the 'dirty dozen' pesticides as listed by the Pesticide Action Network. To ensure the safety of our drinks we conduct independent tests on our ingredients, at an accredited laboratory, throughout the harvest calendar. Of the test results with anything being detected at all, these detections fall well within the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) that you are allowed. Each year our policy will be reviewed and testing procedures will be updated.

And what about all of those plastic bottles?

All our smoothie bottles contain some recycled PET* plastic, otherwise known as rPET. 

We've been pioneering the use of food grade rPET since 2003, when we first introduced a little bit of recycled content to our smoothie bottles, and we've been working on it ever since in one way or another We're committed to reducing the carbon impact of our packaging throug initiatives such as this.. along the same lines we have also taken ove 25% out of the weight of the bottle. Losing weight is a great way to cu carbon (for plastic bottles anyway).

*PET stands for 'polyethylene terephthalate'. Clear plastic, in other words, said our Stu, who knows about these things.

Are your products suitable for vegans?

Smoothies - We're afraid as we can't guarantee that our drinks are shellac free, due to the small chance that tiny amounts of shellac do make it into our drinks, we can't class our drinks as being suitable for vegans. 

Can infants and children drink your products?

Regarding children in general, our smoothies and juices are OK - they contain nothing but crushed and juiced fruit , so the health properties should be welcome for kids who quite like sweets and crisps too. Fruit naturally contain sugars and because smoothies and juices are made entirely from fruit, they contain sugars too. If possible, try to keep smoothies and fruit juices to meal times and make sure children brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride tooth paste. You can visit our health section for more information about dental health.

In general, look on the ingredients panel and check the amount of fruit in each bottle. If it seems like a reasonable amount of fruit, then it will be OK. If you don't usually give your child this much fruit, then adjust the amount accordingly.

We make a range of drinks specifically for children which you can find out about here. They've got less bits in them, as children seem to prefer their smoothies that way.

Do you think I should dye my hair?

No. I've always thought that blonde suited you.

Why do you always use apples, oranges and bananas in your smoothies?

These three fruits are a bit like the salt and pepper of the fruit world, except there are three of them. We use them for natural sweetness (apples), natural sharpness (oranges) and natural thickness (bananas). It beats using artificial stuff.

So why don't you call your mangoes and passion fruits smoothie "apples, mangoes and passion fruits"?

We name our smoothies according to whichever flavours you can taste the most. So we feel if we were to start calling the smoothies "apples, mangoes and passion fruits," it would be a bit misleading, as what you really taste when you take a mouthful are the mangoes and passion fruits. All of the ingredients are printed in full on the label, so it's not like we're trying to be sneaky or anything.

Do your products contain nuts?

Our veg pots may contain traces of nuts but our smoothies and juices contain no nuts whatsoever (which keeps the squirrels happy).

Are your products GM-free?

Our smoothies, veg pots and orange juice are GM-free.

How do you make sure your fruit is from ethical sources?

Our ultimate aim is that we are proud of every piece of fruit that we use. We want to buy our fruit from farms that look after both their workers and the environment. To achieve this we have created our own set of minimum standards, that detail our expectations for all the relevant social and environmental issues. We are in the process of rolling out these standards with our suppliers, and will work together with them to implement the agreed action plans.

We feel that it is really important to understand the issues relevant to each country, and the pressures faced by our farmers, so we are meeting with more and more of our growers. As our fruit comes from all over the world this is a huge task, but one to which we are passionately committed.

We know that there is no point recreating the wheel - so we also work with established international accreditation organizations such as the Rainforest Alliance. We first met them at a banana plantation in Costa Rica, and were so impressed with the work they do, that we now only buy banana from Rainforest Alliance approved plantations.

The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behaviour. It not only looks at farm workers rights and wellbeing, but also protects ecosystems on the farms, which encourages bio diversity. We believe this sustainable approach is the best one. A well run farm with motivated workers means better quality fruit and better productivity, which means we get nicer fruit and the farms are more profitable.

Are you going to move all your fruit to Rainforest Alliance approved sources?

No, it just isn't applicable for certain countries and certain fruits, like those that we source from the UK. But as the Rainforest Alliance expands into new certification territory, like pineapple, we'll be keen to keep on building our relationship with them. As they develop new standards for new fruits, we will assess their suitability for our growers.

Whilst we don't like to boast, it turns out they quite appreciate the work we do and they showed their gratitude last year with this rather fetching trophy. Outside of the world of fruit they certify all sort of things including coffee, cocoa and forestry. Find out more here: www.rainforest-alliance.org

Why don't you buy fairtrade fruit?

We take the ethics of our supply chain incredibly seriously and took great care to find the best independent certification scheme that matched our values, and suited our needs the best. Fairtrade's primary focus is on the prices paid to the farmers and social issues for small farms and cooperatives. It's a great scheme but we felt that Rainforest Alliance looked at a broader spectrum of issues (both social and environmental), which we thought was a better fit with our own ethos. Also, the Fair Trade scheme predominantly certifies cooperative and and family run small holdings - not all of our fruit is available from these types of farms, so Fairtrade isn't always applicable to our growers.

Articles like this one from The Observer Food Monthly debate the key differences between Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade (this one's about coffee).

What is the innocent foundation?

The innocent foundation is a grant giving charity that was set up in July 2004 with the idea of bringing nature and communities closer together for mutual benefit. innocent donate 10% of our profits each year to charity, primarily to the innocent foundation, which funds rural development projects in the countries where our fruit comes from. Find out more here.

Do your drinks actually contain shiny trumpets/pebbles/cricket pavilions/small churches?

No.

Can I have some free drinks for my event please?

We get lots and lots of requests for our drinks and as much as we'd love to help everyone out, it would just be impossible. Instead, we give any excess drinks we have to the homeless through the charity, Fareshare. You can find out a bit more about the good work they do here.

Okay. But it's for charity. Does that make any difference?

Generally, we feel it's better to be able to offer a significant amount of support to one cause rather than a little backing to lots of different ones. With that in mind, every year we donate 10% of our annual profits to charity, the majority of which goes to the foundation. Its remit is to fund Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that work to bring nature and communities closer together. You can see a bit more about the projects we support at www.innocentfoundation.org. Hope that all makes sense.

I'm running a marathon/ climbing Everest/ shaving off all my chin hair for charity. Can you sponsor me please?

Again, whilst we applaud anyone who gives up their time to sit in a bath of baked beans or run further than the corner shop to raise money for charity but if we sponsored everyone who wrote to us, we'd be living off beans and no toast. Instead, we make sure that we give something back to the countries where we buy our fruit, via the innocent foundation.

Can I borrow your car?

The clutch has gone funny, the fan belt's shot and there are no windows. Plus I've forgotten where I've parked it.

Lend us a fiver.

No.

Ethics

Who are the Rainforest Alliance?

The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behaviour. It not only looks at farm workers rights and wellbeing, but also protects ecosystems on the farms, which encourages bio diversity. We believe this sustainable approach is the best one. A well run farm with motivated workers means better quality fruit and better productivity, which means we get nicer fruit and the farms are more profitable. www.rainforest-alliance.org

Are you going to move all your fruit to Rainforest Alliance certified sources?

No, it just isn't applicable for certain countries and certain fruits, like those that we source from Europe. But as the Rainforest Alliance expands into new certification territory, like pineapple, we'll be keen to keep on building our relationship with them. As they develop new standards for new fruits, we will assess their suitability for our growers. Outside of the world of fruit they certify coffee, cocoa and forestry. Find out more here: www.rainforest-alliance.org

Do you prefer Rainforest Alliance over Fairtrade?

Our fruit comes from all over the world and from thousands of different farms of all types and sizes — large plantations, co-operative groups, tiny family farms and even from the Amazon rainforest. This means that there is definitely no single certification scheme that will cover all our countries, fruits and the sustainability issues we feel are important. It is a matter of finding a certification scheme that fits us best. Whilst we believe that Fairtrade is a very effective certification, particularly for addressing social issues, it is not widely used for the variety of fruits and the countries that we buy from and as such would significantly limit our purchasing flexibility.

The Rainforest Alliance address all the sustainability issues that we feel are important and they certify farms that we already buy from for a number of our fruits. Currently all our bananas and some of our pineapples come from Rainforest Alliance certified farms and we are investigating opportunities for certification with some of our other fruits.

Why don’t you buy Fair Trade or organic fruits?

It's not that we don't support these programmes as we think both are really valuable, it's more that if we have any money to spend on buying certified products, then Rainforest Alliance is our preferred one given the breadth of the issues that they cover and their suitability for our current purchasing patterns. Fair Trade is most effective for small farms and cooperatives. Organic focuses solely on environmental issues. Purchasing flexibility is important, we need to make sure we can buy the variety and quality and quantity of fruit that we need, and this is not always possible if we align ourselves to just one certification programme.

Why don’t you buy organic fruit?

When it comes to fruit, we care most about using the best tasting stuff, and ensuring it is completely natural. Unfortunately if we restricted our fruit to only organic we simply wouldn't have be able to access the optimum variety and quality of fruit. Suffice to say, if we try an organic ingredient that tastes better than our existing ones, we'll endeavour to use it. Another hurdle we have with using organic ingredients is the cost impact on the drinks - a key concern for our drinkers - as we want to make the best quality product whilst also making it as accessible as we can.

We do however want to minimise pesticide and other agrochemical usage on our fruit, and this is one of the requirements of the innocent minimum standards for our fruit growers. Our standards work to ensure against the use of any of the 'dirty dozen' pesticides as listed by the Pesticide Action Network. To ensure the safety of our drinks we conduct independent tests on our ingredients, at an accredited laboratory, throughout the harvest calendar. Of the test results with anything being detected at all, these detections fall well within the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) that you are allowed. Each year our policy will be reviewed and testing procedures will be updated.

We've promised our drinkers that we will always make all-natural drinks which taste the best in the market and do you a lot of good, and we believe they are as healthy as they can be. Overall we're always trying to improve what we do, and are constantly reviewing the ingredients we use, be that whether they are organic or where they're sourced from.

Do you worry about food miles?

Yes we do. That is why we always transport our fruit by land or sea, rather than air freight it. We get our fruit from lots of different places. We do try to get as much as possible from Europe, but when it comes to hot climate fruit like mangoes and passion fruit, we have to look elsewhere. Our policy is one of finding the best fruit and working out the best way to get it into our bottles so we can be sure our smoothies are the very best. Interestingly in our carbon audit we found that food miles contributes less than 20% of our overall footprint, and that to achieve the greatest reductions we should be working on areas like packaging and bottling. Doesn't mean we won't keep looking for the most efficient way to transport our fruit though.

Do you buy fruit locally?

Our first commitment when it comes to fruit, is to use the best tasting stuff, and ensure it is natural. Part of ensuring the fruit is natural is that we buy it from areas in the world which are best suited for production without significant inputs (be it energy or agrochemicals). Currently just over half of the fruit we buy comes from Europe, and of course our tropical fruits like mango, pineapple and banana come from a little further afield.

With regard to buying fruits grown in the UK we face two main challenges. Firstly that these fruits are primarily grown for the fresh market (the fruit you buy whole in a shop), and as such they often do not have the taste characteristics that are suitable for a smoothie (they can be a bit watery — which is lovely fresh, but not in a smoothie). Secondly, as these fruits are grown for the fresh market they are very expensive, and for example with the amount of strawberries we need for our smoothies, we simply cannot afford them and still make your smoothies at a competitive price.

We also need to consider the social issues, by providing a market for products from less developed nations we can provide much needed income to local communities.

What’s your approach for sustainable packaging?

We aim to make our packaging as sustainable as possible. We've realised that one of the best ways to do this is to measure the carbon impact of each of our packs. Our toolkit then for reducing carbon looks a little like this:

1. Use less: as little material as possible per pack
2. Don't use up new stuff: as much recycled or renewable material as possible
3. Close the loop: materials and pack formats that are easy to recycle
4. Lower its impact: packaging that has a low carbon footprint

Obviously, we also try to make sure that it does the job it's supposed to - if doing one of the above resulted in increased waste of the product inside (either through damage in transport, or reduction in shelf-life) it would not be good for sustainability - the environmental impact of packaging is normally much less than that of the product itself.

To make sure we are always improving, we monitor the carbon impact or our entire packaging portfolio and our sustainability and packaging teams set priority improvement projects each year. Any new piece of packaging is also assessed against these criteria, and this assessment is an important consideration in its design.

How do you choose your packaging materials and format?

We choose the packaging that works best from a sustainability perspective (using carbon as our primary method of assessment) and which will also work best for our products and for our customers. For our bottle that has meant using recycled material and trying to get it as light as we can. For the cartons and kids wedges we have been working on using Forest Stewardship Council certified paper (making sure the paper comes from sustainably managed forests), and checking regularly to know where in the UK you can recycle the cartons, then passing this information on to our customers.

What's the difference between recycled and recyclable?

Many materials are now recyclable i.e. they have the potential to be collected and made into new things. For example paper can be made into more paper. Plastic can be made into more plastic.

If something contains recycled material, this refers to what they were made out of in the first place, i.e. it contains either some material, or is made entirely out of material, that already used to be something else.

Are your big cartons and kids' wedges really recyclable?

Despite most people thinking otherwise, our cartons are fully recyclable. The issue is, that unfortunately not all UK councils currently recycle them, in the same way that most councils didn't take plastic bottles 5 years ago. However, this situation is definitely improving. Over 85% of all councils in the UK now provide some form of carton recycling facilities. Most facilities are recycling banks (in supermarket car-parks or specific waste sites), but over 30% of councils will collect them from households. To find out whether you can recycle beverage cartons in your area, visit www.tetrapakrecycling.co.uk and use the map to see if your council currently has a collection scheme.

Why do councils seem to have difficulty recycling carton?

Our drinks cartons are made from paper with a very thin layer of plastic both on the inside and the outside to make the paper waterproof. To recycle the cartons you need to separate the paper from the plastic which requires a few additional steps to the normal paper recycling process. There are very few recycling mills in Europe that have installed these additional steps (mostly because with the current value of recycled paper, it costs more to recycle it than they can sell it for so please buy some more stuff from recycled paper to help drive this market).

Up until June 2006, lots of the UK's carton recycling happened at a paper mill in Fife. Unfortunately this mill was closed. In response to this, Tetra Pak provided an initial £300,000 National Recycling Fund, and along with industry partners in ACE UK, they have invested a further £1.5m to support local authorities in setting up recycling and collection facilities. They are now offering a cost neutral recycling bank solution to all local authorities that are not yet collecting cartons.

We know that this isn't the perfect answer, but it's all moving in the right direction.

So how are cartons recycled?

The process for recycling liquid cartons is:

1. Baled cartons are dropped into a pulper, similar to a giant domestic food mixer,
2. filled with water, and
3. pulped for around 20 minutes.
4. This breaks down the packaging to produce a grey-brown mixture.
5. The aluminium foil and/or polyethylene are separated from the fibre, which is recovered to make new paper products.
6. The remaining mix of plastic and aluminium can then be used in furniture, to generate energy or even separated out into pure aluminium and paraffin. 

Why not switch all your packaging to cartons?

When we choose our packaging we are considering a whole lot of stuff - consumer preference for look and feel, cost for packaging, shelf life of the product, method of filling the packaging with our smoothies, ease of transport etc. And of course what is the most sustainable option - and sustainability needs to think about not only carbon but also broader environmental and social issues as well. Cartons have a really low carbon footprint, but require virgin paper, and some virgin plastics to coat the paper. So there are sustainability impacts associated with forestry activities and plastics. Our plastic packaging uses waste materials and is easily recyclable, but has a higher carbon footprint. We try to make sure we get the right balance for all our packaging, and to make sure that for each packaging format that we use, we make it as sustainable as possible.

We are working with our suppliers and specialist organisations like WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) to ensure that we use the best possible sustainable packaging, and we continue to challenge the industry to develop better materials. If we find a better packaging format than what we currently use, that makes sense for us, for our consumers, and for the environment then we will certainly give it a go.

Why don't you use reusable glass bottles?

We do remember the good old days of the milk bottle - and fresh cream on top of the almost still frothing milk.

Whilst the reusable glass milk bottles look like the right answer environmentally there are actually a lot of issues for us to consider. Milk bottles are heavy, and take up lots of room in a vehicle as they cannot be flattened, so moving milk bottles around either when empty or full takes up lots of vehicle space and uses lots of fuel creating lots of carbon emissions. There are also significant amounts of energy needed to wash them, and then distribute them back to all the bottling sites for the companies that are using them. Glass also requires a lot of energy to create in the first place and again when it is recycled due to the heat needed to melt it down.

Cartons are much lighter, use less material to hold the same amount of product, and use less energy to make in the first place. So whilst they are only used once, unless the glass bottle collection and washing scheme is incredibly efficient, environmental assessments have actually shown cartons to be more efficient. All of the paper used in our cartons and kids wedges comes from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Our assessments have shown that for now the best packaging solution for us is to stick with the cartons rather than glass. We can reassure you that we continue to assess this situation, and should there be a more sustainable answer we will do everything we can to implement it within our business.

Are all your cartons from certified sustainable materials (like FSC)?

We are delighted to say that all of our cartons are made from 100% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified card. Certification ensures that the paper comes from forests that meet high environmental standards, where forest workers are treated fairly, and the forestry company invests in ensuring the forest is there for the long term.

 

If you want to read more about the great work of the FSC visit www.fsc-uk.org

How do you get the recycled plastic for the bottles?

The old fashioned way. People at home have an old PET bottle that they have finished with, they put it in the recycling bin, the council comes to collect it, and a plastics company collects it to take it away and make it into new bottles.

Why are the bottles a bit of a funny colour?

When you are using recycled material it is hard to get a consistent colour of your plastic. This is because the plastic used to be all sorts of different things and lots of different colours - so to get it back to being completely clear is very tricky. We have worked really hard to incorporate sorting equipment so that we use the best available plastic, but there is still a blue-grey tint to the packaging. Since we introduced our 100% recycled plastic bottle in 2007 we have noticed that the colour of the plastic has got quite a bit worse and our smoothies are starting to look a very funny colour. This is why we have taken the decision to reduce our 100% recycled plastic bottle to a 35% recycled plastic bottle for the moment.

Where do you source your recycled PET for the bottles?

We cannot tell you exactly who our supplier is for commercial confidence reasons, but we can tell you that the raw material is from a European company that uses household collection waste from their region. Some really useful organisations that you can contact for more information about sourcing and using rPET are:

WRAP: www.wrap.org.uk/retail/materials/recycled_pet.html- details of all European PET re-processor details

British Plastic Federation: www.bpf.co.uk

British Plastic Federation Recycling Council: www.bpf.co.uk/bpfgroups/BPF_Recycling_Council.cfm

Re-Coup: www.recoup.org

We've been working directly with our bottle supplier over the years, to find a recycled raw material source to supply them a high enough grade material to suit their processing needs (pellet type and I.V. spec). They will continue to work with us to optimize the material performance so that we can try to increase the recycled content from 35% once more.

What about health and safety of the bottles?

The bottles are perfectly safe. We have EU Directives and legislation that stipulate the processes that can be used and the safety parameters within which any recycle material in contact with food has to perform. This legislation is to ensure that there is no migration of active chemicals through the plastic over the duration of the product life. The use of recycled plastics in contact with foodstuffs in Europe is subject to European Commission Directive 2002/72/EC of 6 August 2002 although some countries have their own guidelines as well e.g. France.

We commissioned PIRA to carry out independent testing to assess the performance of the selected material in our bottle, and also sought legal advice from a law firm who are experts in food legislation to confirm we were legal in all the countries in which we do business.

How many times can PET be recycled?

Plastic does lose some of its original quality through recycling. This is caused by specks of dirt, contamination and the fact that the original molecular make-up can change. Studies have shown that you can recycle PET up to 10 times for use in a food-grade product (closed loop), such as our bottles, without needing to use any virgin material. After this, you can either use the recycled plastic and add in some virgin material, or the PET can be recycled for different products, like fleecy jackets, outdoor furniture, or carpets. WRAP tell us that based on the current and foreseeable recycling technology, recycling rates and demand, an rPET level in the order of 35% for all PET packaging would be a very positive and hugely beneficial industry target to aim for. This would preserve the integrity of the recycling stream and allow the loop to remain closed.

Are there problems with using recycled plastic?

Black specs are common in rPET which have not been selected to a high enough grade. The more selective the grade, the more expensive the material. The grades are based on the colour and quality of the plastic selected for that particular batch.

Discoloration is an issue. With the highest grade of clear PET there will always be a yellowing of the plastic from the re-processing. With the next grade down, there are usually a lot of tinted bottles in the selection many of which are blue from the water bottle industry. The colour can therefore be blue, grey or green. Our 100% recycled plastic bottles had developed quite a pronounced tint which changes the colour of our product, so we are temporarily using a 35% rPET bottle until we can address the issues we are seeing.

Has the recycled content of your smoothie bottles changed? If so, what to and why?

Our 250ml smoothie bottle is special. It’s fully recyclable and it also contains recycled plastic. We’ve been pioneering the use of food grade recycled plastic ever since 2003 when we first introduced 25% post consumer recycled content (rPET) to our bottles. We then took it all the way to 100% recycled plastic in 2007. In 2011 we had a bit of a setback: we had to temporarily reduce the content down to 35%, because the quality of the recycled plastic we were using had declined to an unacceptable level. We want our packaging to be sustainable, but we also want our smoothies to look their best, and our packaging to do the job it’s supposed to do. We wanted to inspire other companies to use recycled plastic and demonstrate that it can perform as well as virgin plastic, but we weren’t quite doing that.

We were determined to increase the recycled content again and worked hard with our suppliers to try and develop new clearer grades of recycled plastic. The great news is that our little smoothie and juice bottles are back to 50% rPET now. We’ll keep plugging away on the rest. It’s a bit like recycled paper - when it was first introduced it was brown, furry and you wouldn’t even dream of putting it in a printer. Now you can’t tell it apart from virgin paper. Recycled plastic for food packaging is still pretty new, and it needs to go on a similar journey.

 

Meanwhile you can help by continuing to recycle our bottles, so that there’s plenty of recycled plastic out there to choose from.

Can I recycle Wedges?

Our kids squeezies are quite complex when it comes to the packaging. The recycled cardboard container is fully recyclable. The individual squeezie tubes are not yet recyclable so we are still looking for a better solution - we looked at a bio-degradeable option but it just wasn't good enough to protect the fruit inside. Again, if you are into this technical packaging stuff, and know of a material that might be better, please let us know by writing to hello@innocentdrinks.co.uk.

Does innocent use any PLA packaging?

We trialled the use of PLA (polylactic acid) for our yoghurt breakfast thickie in 2007 - we liked the material because it was made entirely from a renewable resource, and could be composted at end of life. Following on from our trial, we found that PLA isn't quite the right material for us at this point in time. Whilst the bottle is made from a renewable resource, it does not use any waste materials. There are also concerns about the use of food crops to produce plastics and fuels - in that they can take land that is needed for food crops, and push up the prices of food, so it is really important to make sure that we use what would have otherwise been waste materials where we can, and to check sourcing carefully to ensure the crops are grown responsibly. Finally composting is not yet a mainstream end of life option here in the UK, with only a small number of households having any sort of collection of food waste. We have also received feedback from plastics recyclers that PLA bottles can add costs into their recycling operations and in some cases prevent recycling of conventional plastics.

We have opted for the use of recycled plastic in our smoothie bottles. They use material that would have otherwise gone to landfill, and the bottle can itself be recycled again, with the majority of UK households having a plastics recycling collection.

I thought this planet was covered in water? How could we be running out?

97% of the world's water is actually seawater. Of the 3% that is freshwater, three quarters is locked up in ice which leaves just 0.75% for drinking, watering crops and sharing with all the animals, plants and forests. To complicate matters further, demand for freshwater is growing (think population and industrialisation growth), access to water varies enormously from place to place and throughout the year. Plus to top it off water pollution is worsening across the globe.

So is everyone running out of water?

Water scarcity (the measure of how much is available versus how much is used) is always measured locally, so yes some places are doing better than others. However, even places with reasonably high rainfall levels, e.g. the UK, are facing major problems. This is purely because we use so much of the wet stuff, especially in the South East. So make sure you turn the tap off when you clean your teeth and consider fitting an aerator to your tap.

What are innocent doing about this?

As with all major environmental issues we are taking this very seriously, which is why we spent quite a bit of time in 2009 mapping the water footprint of our business, focusing on one of our biggest selling recipes the strawberries and bananas smoothie. We will then focus on opportunities to begin improving that footprint, just the same as our carbon footprint which has reduced by approximately 21% since we first measured it in 2006.

What is a water footprint?

It's a similar concept to a carbon footprint, except rather than calculating the total amount of carbon released during the making of one of our drinks, we're looking at total volume of freshwater used. We're breaking it down so that we can understand water use at every step of the chain, from growing the fruit, to transporting, crushing and blending as well as manufacturing the packaging, bottling the drinks and distributing them to a chiller near you. Breaking it down in this way allows us to firstly calculate an accurate number and secondly to highlight the hotspots so that we can get to work on those right away.

Can we (as consumers) do anything about this?

There are a number of ways you can reduce your own personal water footprint. There are some good links on the 'our water actions' page of our website which you can look at.

What do you mean by sourced sustainably?

We don’t claim to be perfect, but our "sourced sustainably" promise refers to our entire business commitment to sustainability. We felt it was a good thing to tell our consumers about and can summarise this commitment as follows:

The concept of sustainable nutrition underpins our NPD process, as we continue to make products that taste good and do you good. The use of only healthy ingredients sourced with known and manageable impacts on the planet is the bedrock of our sustainability strategy.

It reflects the depth of our commitment to sustainability as a business; the innocent values run through all that we do and our responsible value relates almost solely to sustainability. We have commitment at all levels of the organisation and over 20% of innocent employees either have sustainability within their day-to-day roles & responsibilities or act as Innocent Foundation Guardians.  Innocent gives 10% of its profits to charity, most of which goes to the Innocent Foundation and our Guardians guide the relationships with our charity partners.

It reflects our fruit minimum standards programme which has been running for 6 years now, through which we have been risk assessing and auditing our growers so that we’re happy with their commitment to fair social and environmental standards. We sometimes favour certified fruit or alternatively, where we see major challenges, we invest in sustainable agriculture projects.

It reflects our ongoing commitment to take carbon out of our supply chain. We have been pioneering the use of recycled plastic in our smoothie bottles since 2003, all our cartons are FSC certified and our manufacturing partners have been reporting against sustainability KPIs since 2008.

Lastly, our industry peers and advisors urge us to talk about our commitment to sustainability; they see it as our responsibility to raise the profile of sustainable consumer goods and services. We have to get more people talking about sustainability and voting with their feet. A critical point to make again here is that we do not claim to be perfect. We are on a (never ending) journey to leave things a little bit better than we find them and just want to share where we've got to so far.

Careers

Where is fruit towers?

London
Canal Building, 342 Ladbroke Grove, London, W10 5BU
Paris
La Halle Aux Fruits, 52 Rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, 1er étage, fond de cour, 75010, Paris
Dublin
120/121 Lower Baggot Street , Dublin 2
Copenhagen
Vesterbrogade 14A, København
Amsterdam
Admiraal de Ruyterweg 545, 1055 MK Amsterdam
Salzburg, Austria
innocent Alps GmbH, Lasserstrasse 17, 5020 Salzburg
Stockholm
innocent drinks AB, Fruit Towers, Roslagsgatan 60, 113 54 Stockholm

How tall is Jojo?

5 foot 3inches and ¾ in her pumps.

What should I wear to interview?

We are all pretty dressed down but wear whatever makes you feel comfortable. If this means a suit, then fine, but if this means jeans or that old lucky hat you wear when you play poker on Fridays, then fine too.

Do you accept placement students?

Yes we have a small number of placement opportunities across some of our teams; these are always advertised on our website so please keep an eagle eye out for them. We tend to start looking in October and November.

Do you offer school work experience placements? We promise to be really helpful?

Really sorry but we don't. Most of the work that needs to get done here at fruit towers does require a little bit more experience.

The online application form doesn't seem to work for me?

Sorry you're having troubles with the form, it can sometimes be a bit temperamental with attachments. If you do have trouble and have followed the hints and tips about removing spaces from the file name then just pop the same details from this form into an email to hello@innocentdrinks.co.uk and attach your CV to the email.