Coca-Cola to use 100% recycled plastics for all on-the-go bottles in the UK

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Coca-Cola Great Britain (GB), in partnership with Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP), is switching all plastics bottles of 500ml or less to 100% recycled plastics (rPET). While bottles sold by Coca-Cola in the UK have been recyclable, this move will reduce the company’s use of virgin plastics.

The company will roll out the bottles in September this year, increasing the amount of recycled plastic material in smaller bottles from 50% to 100%. The move will save 29,000 tonnes of virgin plastic each year.

CCEP GB’s general manager Stephen Moorhouse said: “Increasing the amount of recycled plastic we use is a critical point in our sustainable packaging journey and reaching 100% rPET puts us one step closer to achieving our ambition of a world without waste – collecting and recycling a bottle or can for every one that we sell by 2025.”

Last year, Coca-Cola announced that it would roll out bottles made from 100% rPET in the Netherlands and Norway, as part of the company’s latest efforts in Western Europe to eliminate the use of virgin oil-based plastics in its products.

The move in the Netherlands enabled a reduction in the use of virgin oil-based plastics by more than 10,000 tonnes, which in turn will deliver a 21% reduction in carbon emissions associated with the company’s bottles annually.

Additionally, Coca-Cola transitioned to 100% rPET in Norway earlier this year. The move reduces virgin plastic use by 4,300 tonnes annually, creating a 28% reduction in carbon emissions based on bottles produced in the country.

More broadly, Coca-Cola has set a target to collect 100% of its packaging by collecting a bottle or can, regardless of brand, for every one produced by 2025.

Coca-Cola has set up collaborative partnerships with local governments and industry partners to kickstart the collection process. Working with the likes of Fost Plus in Belgium, CITEO in France, Remondis and Interseroh in Germany, WRAP and Valpak in the UK, Infinitum in Norway, Ecoembes in Spain and Returpack in Sweden has already boosted closed-loop practices for its products.

Information disclosed through the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment spring 2019 report found that Coca-Cola used three million tonnes of plastic in its global operations in 2018. This figure accounts for both virgin and recycled plastics.

The company was named as the world’s largest corporate plastic polluter last year, in a report from Greenpeace. Over the course of 239 clean-ups in 42 countries across six continents, volunteers collected more than 180,000 pieces of plastic. According to the report, packaging produced by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé collectively accounted for 14% of the branded items retrieved during the clean-ups.

Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, said: “I am delighted to see Coca-Cola GB taking this significant step to ensure its on-the-go bottles are made from 100% recycled plastic.

“We are committed to crack down on plastic pollution through our landmark reforms such as a deposit return scheme for drinks containers and making manufacturers more responsible for their packaging. Bold measures of this nature from industry will play a huge role in helping us to achieve this ambition.”

Matt Mace

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