Coca-Cola creates PET bottle made entirely from plants – but when will we see it on shelves?

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

The next generation of the PlantBottle was revealed in Milan this week
The next generation of the PlantBottle was revealed in Milan this week

Related tags Recyclable materials Polyethylene terephthalate The coca-cola company

The Coca-Cola Company has unveiled a PET bottle made completely from plant materials, but says there is still some work to do before it reaches a commercial scale. 

Coca-Cola has been using the PlantBottle – made from up to 30% plant-based material – since 2009. Claiming it as a world first, the company revealed its new 100% plant material bottle at the World Expo in Milan this week.

The bottle is also fully recyclable, and functions in the same way as traditional PET plastic bottles.

Sugarcane base

Using patented technology, PlantBottle is made by converting natural sugars in plants into the components needed for the bottle. It uses sugarcane and waste from sugarcane manufacturing.

Coca-Cola says it has used a set of sustainability criteria to identify the required plant-based materials, in order to improve environmental and social performance and avoid negative effects on food security.

A spokesperson told the packaging looks like traditional PET bottles, but is a result of the company’s vision to develop more responsible packaging alternatives to bottles made from fossil fuels.

The beauty of PlantBottle is that it functions just like a traditional PET plastic bottle, because it is PET -  just made from plant-based materials.

“So, it offers consumers the things they love about PET plastic bottles (lightweight, resealable, shatter resistant and fully recyclable along with other PET plastic bottles) but made from renewable materials.

“It can be used for a variety of packaging sizes and across water, sparkling, juice and tea beverage brands. It can be used across our product portfolio.”

The existing 30% plant material PlantBottle has been used since 2009, with 35bn bottles distributed over almost 40 countries. Brands using the bottle include Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Smartwater.

Coca-Cola estimates this has saved the equivalent annual emissions of more than 315,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

When will we see it on shelves?

Coca-Cola is calling this week’s announcement a significant milestone for the PlantBottle, and has pledged it will continue investment in the packaging.    

However, it has not put a time frame on when the 100% plant-material bottle will be available on a wide scale commercially.

“The announcement is a significant milestone in our PlantBottle journey, demonstrating a viable technology solution for a bottle made entirely from plant materials,” ​said the spokesperson.

“There is still more work to be done to reach our ultimate goal to commercialize a bottle made entirely from plant material that is fully recyclable.

“This includes continued partnership with biotechnology partners like Virent to help bring the bottle to market.

“In the meantime, we will continue to focus on use of the [30% plant material] PlantBottle package we have in the market today.”

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