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Coke Recycling Venture Processes 500 Million Bottles in Year One

Continuum Recycling, the recycled-PET joint venture between Coca-Cola Enterprises and ECO Plastics, says it has processed 500 million bottles since opening in May 2012.

The companies say the development of Continuum Recycling, located on the site of ECO Plastics’ existing facility in Lincolnshire, Great Britain, created the world’s largest plastics reprocessing facility, and that it has doubled the amount of bottle-grade recycled plastic (rPET) previously created in Britain since it opened a year ago.

Continuum is now responsible for processing around 50% of all the plastic bottles collected in the UK. The facility also played a key role in Coca-Cola’s recycling efforts during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, with some 15 million plastic bottles collected and returned to shelves as part of 63 million new bottles.

Coca-Cola says of its beverage volume that 61% is delivered in plastic bottles made from PET plastic; consumers like PET plastic bottles because they are lightweight, resealable, shatter-resistant and accepted in most community recycling systems. “But with increasing pressure on natural resources required to make conventional PET bottles — particularly on petroleum and natural gas — we need alternatives,” the company says in its 2011/2012 sustainability report. Coca-Cola aims to source 25% of its PET plastic from recycled or renewable materials by 2015.

Coca Cola is not the only beverage company focusing on using rPET plastic.  Nestlé Waters brand Arrowhead bottled water has created a new “ReBorn” 500ML water bottle that is made with 50% recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET), and that requires 15% less energy to produce. Most of the recycled material for the ReBorn bottle comes from CarbonLITE, a plastic processing facility in Riverside.

Nestle Waters says it has committed to adding rPET to its business as it becomes more economically feasible, but says that there isn’t enough recycled plastic currently available to make 100% rPET bottles.

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