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Coca-Cola roll out PlantBottle across UK

Two hundred million green bottles sitting on the...supermarket shelf. Retailers start selling Coca-Cola products in new PlantBottle packaging, made from a mixture of plant materials and recycled plastic.

Date Posted 12 Sep 2011
Story Source Dr Matthew Aylott, NNFCC
Relevant Industries Biobased Products

coca cola plant bottlePlastic bottles have been traditionally made from petroleum, but technological advances are allowing us to make these plastics from renewable feedstocks. These materials are known as bioplastics and their production is likely to increase five-fold over the next decade to reach nearly 4 million tonnes a year.

Now, for the first time, a major manufacturer has rolled out packaging made from bioplastics onto UK supermarket shelves. On Monday, Coca-Cola released the first of its innovative PlantBottle's and hope to shift 200 million of them by the end of the year. Initially seven brands will use the new bottle, including Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero.

The 500ml bottles, developed with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), contain up to 22.5 per cent bio-based material from renewable sources like sugarcane and 25 per cent recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic. Coca-Cola say the bottles will reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and cut carbon emissions from bottle manufacturing by 25 per cent. Furthermore, the plant-based bottles are designed not to degrade and are identical to petrochemical PET, so they are 100 per cent recyclable.

Significant milestone

"This is a significant milestone for the development of bioplastics in the UK," said Dr John Williams, Head of Materials at the NNFCC, the UK's National Centre for Biorenewable Energy, Fuels and Materials.

"We are finding that manufacturers are increasingly aware of the role sustainable packaging can play in reducing their carbon footprint, but more still needs to be done," he added.

Jon Woods, country manager for Coca-Cola in Great Britain and Ireland, suggested Coca-Cola is already looking to produce the next generation of renewable packaging, which could be released by 2014.

"We're especially excited about the potential to develop recyclable plastic from natural, renewable resources like stems, fruit peels and bark, which can be sourced from almost anywhere in the world. We're not there yet as a commercial product but, working with our research partners, we think we'll get there in the next three to five years," he added.

Increasing awareness

Coca-Cola aren't the only drinks manufacturers to look at bioplastics as an alternative to traditional packaging. PepsiCo – owners of Pepsi, Gatorade, Tropicana and many others brands – are also embarking on a sustainable packaging journey.

In March this year, PepsiCo announced that they would be producing a new "green" bottle which will be made from bio-based raw materials, including switchgrass, pine bark and corn husks. In the future, the company expects to broaden the renewable sources used to create the "green" bottle to include orange peels, potato peels, oat hulls and other agricultural byproducts from its other food business’.

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