Coca-Cola to add tethered lids to plastic bottles in bid to reduce litter

The packaging with tethered lids will be produced by the Coca-Cola Company’s largest bottling company in Europe, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP). These bottles will be used to house 1.5l bottles of Fanta, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Diet Coke, with all old format bottles phased out by early 2024.

Shoppers will begin to notice the new bottles from the second half of this year; the changeover will begin at the CCEP bottling plant in East Kilbride, Scotland, where £32m has been invested to modernise technologies and processes since 2017.

CCEP’s old-format 1.5l bottles have been recyclable for several years and are collected by most UK councils. However, The Coca-Cola Company has conducted consumer research finding that many consumers were not putting lids back on bottles before placing them in the recycling. As such, lids have commonly ended up in landfill, in incinerators, or as litter.

A recent study from Planet Patrol, assessing the origin of more than 85,000 pieces of litter collected in the UK in 2021, found that 5.5% of all brand-identifiable pieces of litter were from The Coca-Cola Company’s brands. The company was similarly named by Surfers Against Sewage as the UK’s largest branded litter offender last year.

“This is a small change that we hope will have a big impact, ensuring that when consumers recycle our bottles, no cap gets left behind,” said CCEP’s general manager for Great Britain, Stephen Moorhouse. “As the world’s largest independent bottler of Coca-Cola, we recognise that we have a leading role to play in pushing innovation and design to produce more high-quality recycled plastic which can be converted into new bottles.”

Coca-Cola has made strides in incorporating recycled content into its packaging and using lighter weight packaging. All 500ml and smaller bottles sold in the UK have been housed in 100% recycled bottles since last year.

However, using recycled content alone is clearly not the solution to the world’s plastic pollution problem. As such, environmental groups including Greenpeace and As You Sow have been urging Coca-Cola to do more to ensure that plastic packaging is recycled and to increase its use of single-use-plastic-free options.

The tethered caps are a step towards the former approach. On the latter, The Coca-Cola Company announced in February that it will ensure that 25% of its drinks are sold in refillable or returnable packaging by 2030.

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