Coca-Cola GB launches its first 100% recycled plastic bottles

The new Sprite bottles will be rolled out by September

Developed as part of a partnership with Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), the new 600ml and 850ml bottles will be rolled out in the UK before the end of the year. Coca-Cola GB claims the move will mitigate the use of 3,100 tonnes of virgin plastic each year, once the switch is completed.

This week has also seen Coca-Cola GB confirm that it will switch its Sprite bottles from green to clear plastic in order to boost recyclability and incorporate 50% rPET.

The moves come as part of Coca-Cola GB’s ambition to double the proportion of recycled content is uses in its plastic bottles to 50% by early 2020 – a goal it has claimed it is on track to achieving. The company estimates that reaching this goal will avoid the use of 23,000 tonnes of virgin plastic across its 20 brands annually, while spurring growth in the rPET market.

According to CCEP’s vice president and general manager for Great Britain, Leendert den Hollander, switching to 100% rPET bottles was “not easy” but forms a “critical element” of the firm’s sustainable packaging strategy.

“Our new Smartwater bottle shows we can go further – but that requires more packaging to be collected so that more can be reused to make new bottles,” den Hollander said.

“That’s why we support the planned reforms of the current recycling system in Great Britain and are calling for the introduction of a well-designed deposit return scheme for drinks containers, which we believe will reduce litter and increase the quantity and quality of material reprocessed in this country.”

The Government is currently exploring how best to design its nationwide deposit-return through a series of consultations on its Resources and Waste Strategy. Ministers are exploring two variants of the system, which will operate for cans and plastic and glass bottles. An “all-in” model would focus on all beverages placed on the market, irrespective of size, while the second, “on-the-go” model would restrict drinks containers that could operate in the system to less than 750ml and sold in a single format.

CCEP has been a long-term supporter of the introduction of a deposit-return scheme in the UK. This is, in part, due to its parent firm The Coca-Cola Company setting an ambition of ensuring that all packaging it puts onto the market is recycled.

A new mix

Since WRAP launched its Plastics Pact last year, dozens of big-name companies have committed to its ambitions, which include achieving a minimum of 30% recycled content across all plastic packaging.

Indeed, many firms in the beverage space have already surpassed this target, with Highland Spring having launched 100% recycled water bottles; innocent drinks switching to 50% rPET for its smoothie bottles and Lucozade Ribena Suntory choosing to house its new ‘Ribena Frusion’ line of soft drinks in 100% recycled plastic bottles.

Building on this trend, vitamin and supplement brand Nature’s Way this month switched to new packaging containing 97% recycled content for more than 300 of its product lines. The recycled content in the packaging is entirely post-consumer and is made using used milk bottles and jugs.

According to Nature’s Way, the move will mitigate the use of 3,500 tonnes of virgin plastic every year. Given that the new packaging will be showcased through US retail giants like CVS, Amazon, Kroger and Publix, the company is hoping that it will encourage consumers and competitors to re-think linear economy models for plastics.

Sarah George  


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