During the World Expo in Milan, The Coca-Cola Company (Atlanta, GA) introduced its very first PET bottle entirely made from renewably sourced materials. This newest version of the company’s PlantBottle packaging is said to be based on the successful application of “groundbreaking” technology to create a fully recyclable plastic bottle made from renewable plant materials.
“Our vision was to maximize game-changing technology, using responsibly sourced plant-based materials to create the globe’s first fully recyclable PET plastic bottle made entirely from renewable materials,” said Nancy Quan, Global Research and Development Officer at The Coca-Cola Company. “Today is a pioneering milestone within our Company’s packaging portfolio.”
Coca-Cola launched the first PlantBottle, made from up to 30% plant-based materials, in 2009, Since then, the company has distributed more than 35 billion of these bottles in nearly 40 countries. PlantBottle packaging uses patented technology that converts natural sugars found in plants—in this case, sugarcane and waste from the sugarcane manufacturing process—into the ingredients for making PET plastic bottles. It maintains the high quality package consumers expect, and looks, functions and recycles like traditional PET, but with the added benefit of being made from renewable materials. The company said it planned to continue investment in its PlantBottle packaging technology adding that, since launch, PlantBottle packaging is “estimated to have helped save the equivalent annual emissions of more than 315,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.”
World Wildlife Fund, with which Coca-Cola has partnered with on sustainability and environmental goals for over a decade, responded to the announcement with a statement from Sustainable Research and Development Manager Erin Simon. Outlining the challenges and the opportunities presented by this development, she commented as follows:
“With every technological advance made in the bioplastic industry comes the opportunity to continue to scale the impact of more sustainable production for the materials we depend on today.
“We’re working with major companies around the world, including The Coca-Cola Company, to consider all the trade-offs involved with plant-based plastics. We all want to make sure that as we shift from fossil fuel based feedstocks to biobased feedstocks for materials we provide net positive solutions without putting additional strain on precious land and water resources.
“Plant-based plastics, if responsibly produced, allow us to continue to benefit from the tremendous value that plastics provide but without the negative environmental effects of using fossil fuels.”