Coca-Cola Commits to 100% Recycled PET Bottles in EU in 2020

Coca-Cola switches to rPET (Courtesy Hellenic Bottling Co.)

Public opinion backed by legislation is moving mountains – ofEU trash that is.

Coca-Cola brands announced that Honest Tea, GlacéauSmartwater and Chaudfontaine brands as well as Swiss marketed HBC water will soon all be bottled in recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET). The decision will replace nearly 10,000 metric tons of virgin plastic in the European Union countries* where these products are sold.

Glacéau and Honest Tea have a huge following in the U.S. withsmaller sales in Europe, according to the company, but “wherever you buy thesebrands in our Western European markets, you will find them in a bottle that isentirely made from recycled plastic.”

Coca-Cola estimates it will use 66,138 metric tons of recycledplastic in 2019.

To expand the availability of plastic stock, Sprite will nolonger be bottled in green PET, according to the company.

Ron Lewis, Chief Supply Chain Officer at Coca-Cola EuropeanPartners said, “We know people have high expectations of companies to make theproducts they love in a sustainable way, and we’re committed to meeting thoseexpectations. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that every bottle or can wesell is collected, recycled, and reused. By moving Sprite from a green bottleto a clear bottle, the material can easily be recycled and used again to makeanother bottle.”

Coca-Cola first began using recycled PET in the 1990s and hassince invested in enhanced recycling technologies to improve the availabilityof food-grade rPET for bottles. The company aims to make all its consumerpackaging 100% recyclable by 2025 and ensure its packaging is made of at least50% recycled material by 2030.

According to Eurostat, 31 kilos of plastic waste is produced per person across the EU each year, adding up to 15.8 million metric tons in total. (Reprinted with permission,

Bruno van Gompel, Technical and Supply Chain Director forCoca-Cola Western Europe, said These new technologies expand the types ofplastic waste streams that can be recycled back into bottles, allowing abroader range of collected materials to become part of the circular economy. Italso enables us to use collection streams that were normally going toincineration or landfill. Investments in scale-up technologies such as thesehelp us accelerate our use of recycled plastic in our bottles.’

In June Coca-Cola joint venture partner Hellenic BottlingCompany (HBC) introduced Valser, its third European water brand exclusively inrPET bottles. The brand joins Deep RiverRock and Römerquelle which are now available in environmentallyfriendly packaging.

Marcel Martin, group supply chain director at HBC said thecompany will soon increase its commitment to four brands in four countries:“clear evidence of concrete progress on the commitment we and our strategicpartner The Coca-Cola Company have made to be active and effective on thiscritical environmental issue.”

“Clearly there is more work to do in building systems andapproaches that allow us to collect and recycle more of our packagingmaterials, but this is a big step forward in ensuring that plastic already incirculation is reused and given more than one life,” he said.

In addition to sustainable packaging, the Valser brand ofsparkling water is pioneering methods of recovering CO2 directlyfrom air, in partnership with Climeworks. All PET bottles will consist of 100%recycled materials before the end of 2019, according to the company.

*Markets include Andorra,Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Iceland, Luxembourg, Monaco, theNetherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden