Coca Cola targets bio-waste for next packaging frontier

Coca Cola Enterprises is pioneering work around utilising waste-derived natural materials to push packaging innovation to new levels in terms of recyclability and carbon.

The company has set an ambitious target to slash the carbon footprint of each bottled drink it produces by a third by 2020 – set against a 2007 baseline.

This will mainly be achieved by delivering carbon reductions through its value chain and one area which could play a vital role in this is through sourcing new bio-based recyclable materials.

In an exclusive interview with edie, Coca Cola Enterprises recycling director Patrick McGuirk confirmed that the company was exploring the potential of using waste materials from renewable sources like stems, fruit peel and bark to use in its PlantBottle plastic packaging, which is currently sourced from Brazilian sugarcane.

“We’ve said that the coke bottle in your hand will have a third less carbon footprint by 2020, I think those type of innovations could well play a part in getting us to that place,” he said.

McGuirk added that the company was keen to set the standard for these type of sustainable developments as packaging forms nearly half the carbon footprint of its business.

“What we’re now working on is the perfect combination of a lightweight bottle with the highest possible levels of recycled plastic and bio-plastic. And our big driver is what gets that bottle to the lowest possible carbon footprint while delivering the quality that a coke consumer expects.”

McGuirk was speaking at the recent launch of Continuum Recycling in Lincolnshire, where his company has invested several millions in closing the loop with its own food-grade PET bottle reprocessing plant.

He said the facility was an extremely important step change as it will enable Coca Cola to source its recycled PET from British bottles.

“At the moment we are importing that PET from Europe … but we are committed to our local value chain, this allows us to ensure that a British bottle returns as a British bottle.”

Coke is also aiming to achieve 25% recycled PET in all of its bottles by the end of this year – a target which McGuirk said the company was “extremely confident” of hitting.

The full interview with Patrick McGuirk can be listened to on the podcast below

Maxine Perella

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