For some of its beverages, The Coca-Cola Company is introducing a new type of plastic bottle made partially from plants. The world's largest beverage company says its new PlantBottle is recyclable, has a lower reliance on a non-renewable resource, and reduces carbon emissions compared with petroleum-based PET plastic bottles.
PET plastic bottles are made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource. The new bottle is made from a blend of petroleum-based materials and up to 30 percent plant-based materials such as sugar cane and molasses.
Coca-Cola North America will pilot the PlantBottle with Dasani and sparkling water brands in select markets later this year and with vitamin water in 2010. The new bottles will be identified through messages on the products as well as in-store point of sale displays. Online communications will highlight the bottles' environmental benefits.
The PlantBottle is made by turning sugar cane and molasses into a component in the manufacture of PET plastic. Coca-Cola is also exploring the use of other plant materials for future generations of the PlantBottle.
Manufacturing the new plastic bottle is more environmentally efficient than making PET bottles, the company says, citing a life-cycle analysis conducted by Imperial College London showing the PlantBottle with 30 percent plant-base material reduces carbon emissions by up to 25 percent.
Unlike other plant-based plastics, the PlantBottle can be processed through existing manufacturing and recycling facilities without contaminating traditional PET. So, the material in the PlantBottle can be used, recycled and reused again and again.
The Coca-Cola Company was first to introduce a beverage bottle made with recycled plastic. It has put resources behind creating packaging that is recyclable and investing in recycling infrastructure to ensure that its packages are collected, recycled and re-used.
Earlier this year, the company opened the world's largest plastic bottle-to-bottle recycling plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The plant will produce about 100 million pounds of recycled PET plastic for reuse annually - the equivalent of nearly two billion 20-ounce Coca-Cola bottles. The company says these efforts are all focused on helping "close the loop" on packaging use and produce truly sustainable packages for consumers.
Critics say they want a return of the iconic contour glass Coke bottles that are also recyclable.