The new bottles will be available in convenience retail locations in the Northeast, Florida and California this month; across the Coca-Cola trademark brands (Coke, Coke Zero Sugar, Diet Coke). Fanta 13.2oz bottles will also be available in rPET bottles. In California, Texas and New York, 20oz 100% rPET Coke trademark bottles will also be available.
Across rPET innovations across its portfolio – including with Coke, Dasani, Smartwater and Sprite – the company says it is reducing the use of new plastic across its portfolio in North America by 20% from a 2018 baseline. This represents a 10,000 metric ton reduction in GHG emissions a year – or the equivalent of taking 2,120 cars off the road for a year, says the company.
'The consumer should not notice a difference in their drinking experience'
The new 13.2oz (390ml) 100% rPET bottle (excluding cap and label) has to deal with the demands of a carbonated beverage, without the consumer being able to notice the difference to a traditional plastic bottle.
“Developing a new bottle made from 100% rPET was a challenge,” Alpa Sutaria, vice president and general manager of sustainability, The Coca-Cola Company North America, told this publication. “It took us about nine months to get to a point where we had designed a bottle that could not only meet the packaging performance required for a carbonated beverage, but also, once tested with consumers, we had a final product they were happy with.
“The consumer should not notice a difference in their drinking experience.”
Like other companies, Coca-Cola has had to address availability of rPET in order to create a bottle that can be produced at scale.
“One of the biggest challenges in creating this bottle is procuring enough clean, food grade recycled plastic to be able to make enough of these sustainable bottles. We are working with several suppliers to source rPET for use in our packaging across the US. We are also continuing to invest in local recycling programs and infrastructure to help ensure that Americans can recycle our bottles and cans conveniently whether at home, at work or in public spaces, which is -- in turn -- recycled and reprocessed to make rPET for use in our bottles and other products.”
Coca-Cola’s new rPET bottles will also include ‘Recycle Me Again’ messages to prompt consumers to recycle bottles. It also champions the bottle’s design makes for a ‘more sippable package’ for consumption on the go.
While launching 100% rPET bottles for its biggest and most iconic brand will boost its use of rPET, the 13.2oz bottle is just one of the sizes and packaging format for brand Coke and the company remains tight-lipped on how many 100% rPET bottles will be available or what percentage of its brand Coke sales can be expected to come from the bottles once they roll out at scale in the summer.
The price of the 100% rPET remains on a par with Coca-Cola's other bottles ($1.59 for the new 13.2oz size compared to $1.99 for a 20oz bottle).
Reaching 50% rPET on average
At the moment, rPET accounts for around 10% of Coca-Cola’s global plastic packaging, although this depends on the market (in California, for example, Coca-Cola puts this figure at around 20% rPET). The company wants to boost this to an average of 50% recycled material in bottles and cans by 2030.
In the US, a series of transitions to increased rPET are scheduled for the coming months. This will start with the 13.2oz ‘sip-sized bottle’ in the Northeast, Florida and California; then see Sprite roll out 13.2oz clear bottles made from 100% rPET in February in the same markets. Dasani will debut 20oz 100% rPET bottles in California, Texas and New York in March; while the brand will take these bottles to 30% rPET nationwide. In July, smartwater will launch 20oz 100% rPET bottles in California and New York.
In the summer, the 100% rPET 13.2oz bottle will roll out nationwide across a variety of brands including Coke trademarks, Fanta and Sprite.
Elsewhere, the trademark Coca-Cola brand already uses 100% rPET bottles in the Netherlands and Norway (as does the whole of locally produced beverage brands in the countries). In the UK, Coke bottles use 50% rPET.
Across the wider portfolio, Coca-Cola Company currently offers 100% rPET bottles in some form in 18 markets globally.