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Smart Water

How Coca-Cola’s Largest Bottler and a National Grocery Chain Reduce Waste, Cut Costs with Circular Economy Models

Smart WaterCircular economy and other resource efficiency efforts can save companies billions of dollars. For this reason leading companies like Coca-Cola European Partners are collaborating with recyclers, packaging manufacturers and other firms across the supply chain to cut costs and materials used.

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) wanted to reduce waste, costs and the carbon footprint of Smartwater production in the UK.

So the world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler partnered with companies across the supply chain to create a circular economy that turns label waste into a resource that can be used to make new products. A collaboration between CCEP, labeling and packaging company Avery Dennison, waste management company Viridor and plastics processor PET UK recycled about 70 metric tons of PET liner waste in 2016.

CCEP produced more than 50 million bottles of Smartwater in 2015. The PET liners used (carrying the self-adhesive labels before dispensing) generated more than 40 tons of waste in that year, costing around $10,600 in disposal/handling costs.

In a case study, Avery Dennison says it approached CCEP with a solution that would allow the PET liners to be recycled. Under the new recycling system, PET UK shreds and extrudes the waste PET liner and then produces a material suitable for making new items such as PET staple fiber, strapping or thermoformable sheets.

The companies expect the circular economy initiative will save CCEP about £25,000 ($30,658) annually and reduced CO2 emissions last year by 180 to 200 metric tons.

Xander van der Vlies, sustainability director for Avery Dennison, says the company launched the circular service with PET UK in 2014. In the past two years it has signed up “numerous” wine, spirits, beer and beverage brands that want to save money and reduce the environmental impact of their bottling operations.

Avery Dennison has also set a goal for 2025 of eliminating 70 percent of liner waste from the industry value chain.

In other efforts to reduce waste and increase plastics recycling, sustainable consumer goods company Preserve is teaming up with renewable plastics manufacturer UrthPact to provide a new line of recycled single-use cutlery for the in-store cafes of a major national organic grocery chain.

Paul Boudreau, CEO of UrthPact, says the cutlery line and dispensers will be manufactured entirely from recycled #5 plastic. It will launch in a six-store pilot program this month and roll out nationally March 1.

In an email, UrthPact VP Paul Nickerson said he can’t disclose the name of the grocery chain until after the product launches. The dispenser eliminates the need to individually wrap the cutlery, which reduces cost and waste for the customer, he added.

The cutlery is designed to be part of Preserve’s Gimme 5 plastic recycling program. Introduced in 2007, Gimme 5 enables consumers to recycle their #5 plastic products, such as yogurt cups, at recycling bins located in the organic grocery chain stores and other select retailers.

The reclaimed plastic is then recycled into new #5 plastic products such as the Preserve toothbrush, all made in the US.

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