Examples of prevention
Coca-Cola
Prevention action: 
End of life: Recyclable or reuseable
Origin of materials
Product category: 
Beverages
500 ml bottles made of 22,5 % plant materials

Coca-Cola launched its PlantBottle® in the Benelux during the spring of 2011. The bottle is partly manufactured from plant-based plastic. Its design enables it to be recycled within the existing PMD circuit. In addition, its manufacture generates fewer CO2 emissions than standard PET bottles.

100 % recyclables bottles

Coca-Cola is active on the non alcoholic drinks market. Its main brands are Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta, Nestea, Chaudfontaine, Minute Maid, and Aquarius. The company developed its PlantBottle® in 2009. In Belgium, its launch took place during the spring of 2011 for 500 ml bottles of Coca-Cola, Coke light and Coke Zero. ‘Our bottles already contained 25% recycled PET. Now, they are also made of 22.5% plant-based materials. In addition, they are 100% recyclable,’ explains Jeroen Langerock, Corporate Identity, Public Affairs & Communications Director Belux at Coca-Cola. By the end of 2011, 80 million PlantBottles® had already been marketed in Belgium. This is the equivalent of 15% of all of the company’s PET bottles

Integration in the PMD market

The plant-based material chosen for the PlantBottle® is sugar cane. The latter is first converted into bio ethanol, which serves as the raw material for plant-based plastic. This plastic is identical to standard PET. To the naked eye, it is impossible to distinguish a PlantBottle® from a PET bottle. ‘A major benefit of the PlantBottle® is that it integrates seamlessly into the PMD collection and recycling circuit,’ observes Langerock. ‘The PlantBottle® packaging material can thus be recycled and reused. This feature fits perfectly into our vision of packaging materials that are recyclable and re-usable, and not merely waste.’

880 tons of CO2 saved

The use of renewable materials enables Coca-Cola to use fewer fossil fuels and thus to reduce CO2 emissions generated by the production of its bottles. As a result, the company emitted 880 tons of CO2 less in 2011 during the manufacturing of bottles destined for Belgium and Luxembourg. On a worldwide scale, the PlantBottle® has already enabled the Group to save about 60,000 barrels of petroleum. The company intends to replace all of its PET bottles with PlantBottles® by 2020. 100% recyclable bottles.

Good to remember

  • The PlantBottle® contains 22,5 % sugar cane-based materials.
  • In addition, the bottle contains 25 % recycled PET and is 100% recyclable
  • It fully fits existing PMD collection and recycling circuit
     

 

How Coca-Cola manufactures and markets the PlantBottle®

Step 1: select the renewable material

After analyzing various plant sources, Coca-Cola opted for Brazilian sugar cane because of its widespread availability and sustainable cultivation. In addition, considerable knowledge had already been accumulated regarding its use for packaging purposes. The company collaborated with a local NGO in order to identify the most responsible source; in other words, one that does not contribute to deforestation and that does not compete with food production.  
 

 Step 2: adapt the logistics chains

The PlantBottle® has required the company to implement a second logistical circuit. The supply, forming, and production of the PlantBottle® are indeed different than those of other bottles. After harvesting, the sugar cane is processed into bio ethanol in Brazil. The pre-forming of the bottles is then carried out in France. Finally, the bottles for the Belgium and Luxembourg markets are blown in the company’s manufacturing site in Antwerp. 

 

Step 3: communicate clearly to consumers

The PlantBottle® features a special sticker that informs consumers of its plantbased material content and of the fact that it is 100% recyclable. A folder was added to six-packs when the bottle was launched. In addition, Coca-Cola initiated a billboard campaign in the cities, as well as a media campaign. 

By 2020, Coca-Cola's goal is to use the PlantBottle® for all the beverages that the company markets in PET bottles

Jeroen Langerock, Corporate Identity, Public Affairs & Communications Director Belux, Coca-Cola

 

Coca- Cola and the environment

  • Each Coca-Cola package complies with its 4R strategy : Reduce, Recycle, Re-use, and Renew.
  • The interactive www.traceyourcoke.be Website informs citizens of the environmental efforts deployed by Coca-Cola. It also encourages them to adopt responsible environmental behaviour.
  • The company has introduced energy management systems for its cooling equipment. This measure enables a 35% energy saving per installation. The speed of Coca-Cola Belgium’s trucks is limited to 80 km/h thereby reducing CO2 emissions by up to 15%.
  • The company adopts programmes for responsible water management and rinse water re-use (to cool machines, for instance). In addition, it protects source water capture areas in the region of Chaudfontaine

www.cocacolabelgium.be