The drinks giant said its PlantBottle containers were beginning to hit retail shelves across the world, with a planned production target of two billion by the end of next year.
Hailing the move as a “major step along our sustainable packaging journey”, chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent said Coke was the first to bring to market a recyclable PET plastic bottle made partially from plants.
Variable plant content
But company said the level of plant material in the bottle differs from country to country.
“While the bio-based component can account for up to 30 percent of the resulting PET plastic in PlantBottle packaging, the percentage varies for bottles that also contain recycled PET,” said a Coke statement.
In Denmark, the bottle also has recycled content, meaning its combined plant-based and recycled elements make up 65 per cent of the material; 50 percent coming from recycled material and 15 percent from plant-based material. In the US and Canada, some 30 percent of the content in the PET plastic comes from plants.
The bottle is currently available in Denmark in 500ml and 2 litre sizes, with a December launch earmarked for Western Canada for Coca-Cola, Sprite Fresca and Dasani, as well as in Vancouver for next year’s Winter Olympic games. The PlantBottle will also be available in some parts of the western US from January 2010. Future launches next year are being planned in other markets, including Brazil, Japan and Mexico and China, said the company.
Sugar and Molasses
The bottle is currently made by turning sugar and molasses into a component in PET plastic. The company said its ultimate goal was to use non-food, plant-based waste, such as wood chips or wheat stalks, to produce recyclable PET plastic bottles. The container is 100 per cent recyclable and initial research has indicated it had a smaller carbon footprint than conventional PET bottles, said the company.
Kate Krebs, director of sustainable resources for the climate group, said: "While Coca-Cola is just beginning to bring its plant-based PET plastic into the mix, this is a revolutionary solution that has the potential for long-term, meaningful benefits."