French bottled water giant Groupe Danone has said that it will make its Evian and Volvic brands "plastics neutral" in the UK.

Danone said late last week that it would recycle plastic for re-use in water bottles, saving an estimated 5,000 tonnes of PET plastic from landfill sites per year.

The scheme has been endorsed by the government-funded Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), which co-ordinates recycling trials and projects with many major companies in the food and drink sector.

Nick Krzyzaniak, general manager of Danone Waters in the UK and Ireland, said: "This UK-based scheme will help Evian and Volvic towards our ultimate aim of becoming truly carbon-neutral by 2011. The closed loop plan means that for every Evian and Volvic bottle sold here in the UK, one bottle will be recycled and the plastic reused."

The firm added: "While it's not practically possible to recover every Volvic and Evian bottle used in the UK, Danone will guarantee the purchase of an equivalent tonnage of used PET bottles and will return that plastic for processing by Danone contractors."

The French group also expects to save a minimum GBP250,000 (US$356,000) per year by cutting its reliance on virgin PET, it said.

Danone and other bottled water producers have come under heavy fire from environmental campaigners in the UK, as well as in North America.

Independent analyst James Amoroso told just-drinks that this was a major reason for Danone's bottled water sales decline in these markets in 2008.