Coke aiming to close loop with recycling initiative

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Recycling

A new recycling plant in the US will produce about 100 million pounds of food-grade recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic for reuse per year, the equivalent of nearly two billion 20-ounce bottles of Coca-Cola, it is claimed.

Soft drinks manufacturer, Coca-Cola, said it has teamed up with United Resource Recovery Corporation to initiate the new bottle to bottle recycling facility, which opened yesterday.

The plant also includes a centre for the collection of used beverage containers, said the company.

Cola-Cola announced the $60 million recycling investment in September 2007, saying it was part of the company's long-term plan to have 100 per cent of its plastic bottles be recycled or reused.

US targets

The global beverage company claims the South Carolina plant, said to be the largest of its kind in the world, will eliminate the production of one million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions – which is comparable to removing 215,000 cars from the road.

"We have set an ambitious goal to recycle all the plastic bottles we use in the US market,"​ Sandy Douglas, president of Coca-Cola North America, said in a statement.

"Our investments in recycling infrastructure coupled with our work on sustainable package design will help us reach this target."

Low recyling rates

Meanwhile, according to the Beverage Market Data Analysis (BMDA) report from the Container Recycling Institute (CRI), only one third of the drink bottles in the US get recycled.

The Institute said its BMDA study takes a comprehensive look at beverage sales and beverage container recycling and wasting across the US; the CRI maintains that since the beginning of its analysis of the sector in 2000, the US has seen significant growth in beverage container packaging primarily as a result of the rapid growth of the plastic container, but at the same time, beverage container recycling rates have stagnated.

Scott Trundle, board chairman of CRI, said that the recycling rate of 34 per cent was unacceptable.

“The aluminum can industry recently announced a 75 per cent recycling goal while the glass container industry announced a 50 per cent goal. There is a huge opportunity to significantly increase beverage container recycling rates and use this recycled material to make new beverage containers,”​ he said.

Betty McLaughlin, executive director of CRI, added: “Using recycled materials in place of virgin materials conserves energy and reduces air emissions. Avoiding energy use is like finding new clean fuel sources."

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