A New Bottle Prototype Made from 100% Plant-Based Resources
Coca-Cola is, once again, on the forefront of sustainability trends in the beverage industry. Earlier this year, Coca-Cola North America announced an initiative for their 13.2-oz bottles to be made with 100% recycled PET plastic. Following the success of that campaign, the company has announced plans to collaborate with Virent and Changchun Meihe Science & Technology to create a sustainable plastic bottle made from 100% plant-based sources.
Science Behind Plant-Based Bottles
More than a decade ago, Coca-Cola debuted the PlantBottle™, made from 30% plant-based materials. Now, the company has upped the ante with a 100% plant-based plastic bottle. A limited run of 900 prototypes has been produced, with plans to make the prototype viable for commercial use.
PET, the world’s most recycled plastic, comprises two molecules: approximately 30% monoethylene glycol (MEG) and 70% terephthalic acid (PTA). The original PlantBottle™ consisted of MEG from sugarcane and PTA from oil-based sources. The new bottles are made from plant-based paraxylene (bPX), resulting from a new process by Virent. The bPX for these bottles are produced using sugar from corn, but have the potential to be made from a variety of feedstock. PlantBottle™ packaging (with the exception of the cap and label, looks, functions and recycles like traditional PET, but has a lighter footprint on the planet and its resources.
Why This Matters
In 2018, Coca-Cola announced its “World Without Waste” initiative with the overall goal of collecting and recycling one bottle for every one it sells by 2030. This new bottle, along with the recycled plastic prototype unveiled earlier this year, is a huge step in that direction. Other companies like Nestlé, the world’s largest food conglomerate, and rival Pepsi have announced similar goals to reduce waste and work down their plastic pollution.
In order to properly scale the recently announced plant-based bottles, UPM, the technology’s first licensee, is currently building a full-scale commercial facility in Germany. This is a major milestone for the entire industry, not just Coca-Cola. “Our goal is to develop sustainable solutions for the entire industry,” says Dana Breed, Global R&D Director Packaging and Sustaina
bility. “We want other companies to join us and move forward, collectively. We don’t see renewable or recycled content as areas where we want [a] competitive advantage.”
What The Future Looks Like
Apart from clear bottles of Sprite (clear packaging is easier to recycle), will there be a noticeable difference in your daily interaction with Coca-Cola brand products? The answer for packaging experts is: yes, there might be noticeable difference, but, for the average consumer, it is unlikely they will ever even notice a product change without significant marketing efforts.
Coca-Cola has set themselves ambitious goals of collecting, recycling or reusing 100% of what they sell by 2030, using 50% recycled content in plastic bottles by 2030 (opposed to virgin plastics which have a higher carbon footprint), and supporting a Net Zero carbon ambition for 2050. If Coca-Cola manages to hit these targets and other companies follow their example, the most noticeable difference for the average consumer will be clearer air and a significant reduction of the effects of climate change.
GCB Solutions has the experience and the resources to help you through any packaging problems you may be facing. Whether you are just beginning the design process or looking to make that final push to launch, we can help.
Call us at (904) 263-2804 or schedule a free consultation, today!