Coca-Cola unveils drinks bottle made from recycled ocean plastics

Coca-Cola has unveiled sample bottles consisting of 25% recycled marine plastics, as the company ramps up efforts to improve the recyclability and collection of its products in Western Europe.

From 2020, the company will incorporate previously unrecyclable and lower-quality plastics into its bottles

From 2020, the company will incorporate previously unrecyclable and lower-quality plastics into its bottles

In partnership with Ioniqa Technologies, Indorama Ventures and Mares Circulares (Circular Seas), the Coca-Cola Company produced 300 sample bottles consisting of ocean plastics retrieved from the Mediterranean Sea and beaches.

While only a proof of concept, which Coca-Cola claims is the first successful attempt to incorporate ocean plastics in food and drink packaging, the company believes that it showcases what can be incorporated into bottles in the future.

The company is instead enhancing efforts to improve recycling at a commercial scale to improve the material content from existing recyclers, including previously unrecyclable plastics and lower-quality recyclables. From 2020, Coca-Cola plans to roll out this enhanced recycled content in some of its bottles.

Coca-Cola Western Europe’s president Tim Brett said: “Too many of the world’s finite resources are currently discarded as waste.  We know we need to do more to correct this. The targets we have set out today are ambitious and rightly so. There is a valuable role for packaging, but it must always be collected, recycled and reused. 

“Our aim, working in partnership, is to see the term “single-use plastic” become redundant, both in our business and beyond, as all of our plastic – and indeed all of our packaging - is delivered within a closed loop”.

Western front

The sample bottles were revealed as Coca-Cola Western Europe unveiled new targets to support the company’s overall vision of a “world without waste”.

In 2017, as part of their joint Sustainability Action Plan, Coca-Cola European Partners and Coca-Cola in Western Europe pledged to a plethora of near-term targets. The organisations committed to collect a can or bottle for everyone that it sells; ensure that all of its packaging is 100% recyclable; ensure that at least 50% of the content of its plastic bottles will come from recycled content. 

In 2019 alone, Coca-Cola has invested €180m into sustainable packaging across Western Europe.

Now, the company has amplified efforts across four areas. The company has committed to removing all unnecessary or hard to recycle plastic from its portfolio through lightweighting and the removal of secondary packaging made from plastics. This will avoid the use of more than 11,000 tonnes of plastic per year. Last month, Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) commenced this action by announcing it will end the use of shrink-wrapped plastics across all can multipacks it sells in Great Britain.

The company is now working towards 100% recycled or renewable materials in all of its plastic bottles, which will avoid the use of more 200,000 tonnes of virgin plastic every year. At a policy level, the company will publicly support deposit return schemes across Western Europe if a successful alternative does not exist.

Finally, the company has pledged to transparent disclosure of its packaging footprint on an annual basis by packaging type. Coca-Cola Western Europe will report against these commitments.

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.

edie will soon be publishing an in-depth examination of Coca-Cola’s plastics strategy, featuring exclusive quotes and data from the firm.

Matt Mace



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