Coca-Cola announces industry-leading target for reusable plastic

The Coca-Cola Company has announced an industry-leading goal to significantly boost its use of reusable packaging. By 2030, the company aims to have at least 25 per cent of all beverages globally across its portfolio of brands sold in refillable/returnable glass or plastic bottles, or in refillable containers through traditional fountain or Coca-Cola Freestyle dispensers. 

“We continue to put consumers at the center of all we do,” said Elaine Bowers Coventry, Chief Customer and Commercial Officer, The Coca-Cola Company. “One way to do that is by offering sustainable packaging types. Accelerating use of reusable packages provides added value for consumers and customers while supporting our World Without Waste goal to collect a bottle or can for every one we sell by 2030.”

The company’s World Without Waste initiative remains focused on its three core pillars:

DESIGN: Make all of their primary consumer packaging recyclable by 2025. Use 50 per cent recycled material in our packaging by 2030.

COLLECT: Collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one they sell by 2030.

PARTNER: Bring people together to support a healthy, debris-free environment.

By increasing their use of reusable packaging, they promote a circular economy as refillable containers have high levels of collection and are low-carbon footprint beverage containers, because the container collection is built into the beverage delivery model.

As the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) notes in its Reuse: Rethinking Packaging report, converting 20 per cent of global plastic packaging into reuse models is a $10 billion business opportunity that benefits customers and represents a crucial element in the quest to eliminate plastic waste and pollution.

A Proven Track Record with Reusables

Returnable glass bottles and refillable PET currently represent more than 50 per cent of The Coca-Cola Company’s product sales in more than 20 markets, and more than 25 per cent of sales in another 20 markets. 

Traditional refillable/returnable packaging accounted for approximately 16 per cent of the company’s total volume in 2020. Use of refillables is growing in several markets, outperforming non-refillables in Germany and parts of Latin America, where reusable bottles represented 27 per cent of transactions in 2020. Markets around the world have increased their focus on refillable packaging in recent years through initiatives that include:

  • Expanding the rollout of the “Universal Bottle” that was first introduced in 2018 by Coca-Cola Brazil and is now used in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Panama. This innovative solution drives efficiency of collection, cleaning and filling by offering multiple sparkling and still brands in the same reusable bottle with a single color, shape and size. EMF recognized the Universal Bottle as a leading practice on reuse.
  • Expanding the rollout of refillable 2-liter and 1.5-liter PET (RefPET) plastic bottles—which can be cleaned, refilled and reused before being recycled and made into new PET bottles—in South Africa.
  • Collaborating with Carrefour to pilot a circular shopping system called Loop in France. Consumers can order a variety of products, including Coca-Cola beverages, delivered to their home in customized packaging that is collected, cleaned, refilled and reused or recycled.
  • Partnering with Burger King and TerraCycle in the United States for a pilot program in select cities to reduce single-use packaging waste by offering reusable food containers and beverage cups.
  • Introducing reusable cups with microchip technology for use with Coca-Cola Freestyle machines for use at theme parks, and on university campuses and cruise ships.

These and other similar sustainability efforts helped pave the way for the global reusable packaging target that have been announced, which will require significant investment, particularly in markets with limited refillable/returnable infrastructure.

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