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Coca-Cola Unveils Ambitious Sustainable Packaging Strategy

Coca-Cola Great Britain has announced a new sustainable packing strategy that calls for increasing the recycled plastic content in its bottles from 25% to 50% by 2020.

As ethicalcorp.com reports, Coca-Cola has widened its strategy to include “championing new ways to improve recovery and recycling,” which includes a communications campaigns to reach 35 million consumers, clearer messaging on all products to encourage recycling, being active at “experiential” events such as music festivals, and working with customers to share its marketing expertise.

This is part of the beverage giant’s 2020 sustainability goals. Coca-Cola partnered with the World Wildlife Federation to develop the following goals for the company’s nearly 300 bottling partners in more than 200 countries:

  1. Improve water efficiency by 25% through operational advancements. Coke will improve its water use efficiency per liter of product produced through operational advancements throughout its global system. This target compliments the 21.4% improvement in water use efficiency achieved from 2004 through 2012.
  2. Help maintain healthy, resilient freshwater systems. Coca-Cola and WWF will expand their joint freshwater conservation efforts to 11 regions across five continents, including river basins of the Amazon, Koshi, Mekong, Rio Grande/Bravo, Yangtze and Zambezi; the catchments of the Great Barrier Reef and Mesoamerican Reef; and key regions in the Amur-Heilong, Atlantic Forests and Northern Great Plains.
  3. Reduce CO2emissions embedded in ‘the drink in your hand’ by 25%. Coca-Cola will work to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions across its value chain, making comprehensive carbon footprint reductions across its manufacturing processes, packaging formats, delivery fleet, refrigeration equipment and ingredient sourcing.
  4. Responsibly source material for PlantBottle™ packaging.Coca-Cola will work with WWF to assess the environmental and social performance of plant-based materials for potential use in its renewable packaging. This will enable the company to meet its goal to use up to 30% plant-based material for all of its PET plastic bottles by 2020.
  5. Sustainably source key agricultural ingredients. Coca-Cola will work to sustainably source its key ingredients, including cane sugar, beet sugar, corn, tea, coffee, palm oil, soy, pulp and paper fiber, orange, lemon, grape, apple and mango. Coca-Cola also has established Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles (download here), and will work with WWF to implement the guidelines throughout the global Coca-Cola system.

In addition, Coca-Cola is reaffirming its environmental goals for water replenishment and package recovery through 2020 to include:

  1. Replenish 100% of water used.Coca-Cola will return treated water from its manufacturing processes back to the environment at a level that supports aquatic life and replenish the water used in its finished beverage products through continuing its community water projects with partners in more than 100 countries. To date, Coca-Cola’s replenishment work has balanced an estimated 52% of product volume through 468 projects.
  2. Reach a 75% recovery rate of bottles and cans in developed markets.Coca-Cola will work with the beverage industry and local organizations to establish baseline information and work to increase recovery and recycling in developing markets. The company will continue to reduce the amount of material and energy used in its packaging, as well as continue to use both recycled and renewable content.

In addition to its recycling goals, the company is also investing in an advertising campaign, set to reach 35 million people in Britain, to encourage people to recycle their bottles. It will also look at working with the government to introduce a bottle deposit return scheme.

Coke’s use of a 100% bio-based recyclable container made headlines in May. Coca-Cola and Virent produced the world’s first PET plastic bottle made entirely from plant materials in 2015 — but at demonstration scale. Coca-Cola has been producing a partially bio-based PlantBottle since 2009.

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