Sprite removes labels from bottles in UK trial

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Sprite will be without labels in a UK trial in Tesco stores. Pic: CCEP
Sprite will be without labels in a UK trial in Tesco stores. Pic: CCEP

Related tags sprite Coca-cola lemonade Recycling

Coca-Cola will remove labels from Sprite bottles in select UK convenience stores, in a move to cut down on packaging materials and simplify recycling.

The three month trial will cover 500ml on-the-go Sprite and Sprite Zero in eight Tesco Express stores in Brighton and Hove, Bristol, London and Manchester from January to March.

Instead of labels, bottles will use an embossed logo on the front of the pack and laser-engraved product information on the back.

The move will reduce the amount of packaging used. However, it will also improve the recycling process: while the existing labels are already fully recyclable, they need to be separated from bottles during the recycling process and this step can be avoided entirely when laser-engraving is used instead.

Dusan Stojankic, VP Franchise Operations, GB&I at Coca‑Cola Great Britain, said: ​“We want to help create a future where plastic drink packaging will always have more than one life. Labels contain valuable information for consumers, but with the help of technology we can now trial other ways to share this information while reducing the amount of packaging we use.

"Going label-less might seem like a small step, but it is one of several ways we are exploring making recycling easier, minimizing waste, and minimizing the impact of our packaging on the environment.”

Small design change, big marketing shift

Javier Meza, VP Marketing, Coca‑Cola Europe, adds the main aim of the trial is to explore how consumers react to such packaging. How well Sprite's signature form and colors stand out without a label on a busy shelf will be one of the key considerations.

“Although the design change may sound simple, this is a big shift from a marketing perspective. This trial could contribute to longer-term changes to the way brands communicate with their consumers.”

Sprite and Sprite Zero already use different color caps to distinguish each product (green for Sprite and transparent for Zero): a mechanism that should help consumers identify the label-less bottles.

Like other major brands, Coca-Cola has been looking at how design can reduce packaging waste. It has already changed the once-signature green plastic to clear plastic, which is easier to recycle.

It has also introduced tethered caps to bottles: which ensure the cap stays connected to the bottle for recycling (rather than contributing to litter) as well as worked on light-weighting and reducing material use in secondary packaging.

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