The Coca-Cola Company has made significant changes to two of its biggest North American brands in support of its World Without Waste sustainable packaging goals. The first, Dasani water, involves the rollout of a new bottle made from 100% recycled PET, excluding the cap and label. Meanwhile, its carbonated lemon-lime soft drink Sprite has transitioned from green to clear plastic to increase the material’s likelihood of being remade into new beverage bottles.
The introduction of the Dasani bottles commenced this past summer, when Coca-Cola began offering a majority of its Dasani bottles in the U.S.—including 20-oz and 1.5-L singles and 10- and 12-oz multipacks—in 100% recycled plastic. In Canada, this innovation spanned all Dasani bottles. Says the company, the shift supports both Dasani’s pledge to remove the equivalent of 2 billion virgin plastic bottles from production by 2027 compared to 2021 levels and Coca-Cola’s World Without Waste goal to use at least 50% recycled material in its bottles and cans by 2030.
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The brand’s transition to 100% recycled plastic is projected to save more than 20 million pounds of new plastic, the equivalent of 552 million bottles, compared to 2019, and cut more than 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2023. Explains Coca-Cola, because it takes less energy and resources to create a bottle from recycled plastic, for every pound of recycled rPET material used (in lieu of new PET), GHGs will be reduced by 65%. The end result will be the equivalent of taking 6,629 cars off the road for one year, it adds.
The Dasani announcement follows the successful launch of 100% recycled plastic bottles in New York, California, and Texas, which also included Coca-Cola Trademark 20-oz bottles. According to the company, the launch helped it to identify the best-quality sources of rPET and fine-tune the production processes needed to make 100% recycled plastic bottles.
“Demand for rPET currently exceeds supply, so the first step to scaling up use of 100% rPET across our portfolio is building a sustainable pipeline of high-quality material,” says Chris Vallette, Senior Vice President of Technical Innovation and Stewardship, Coca-Cola North America. “We do this by working with communities to boost PET recycling and collection, collaborating with recycling partners, and, finally, securing rPET to help ensure the material for our bottles is used again and again.”
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The initial launch helped drive consumer awareness through the on-pack “100% Recycled Bottle” and “Recycle Me Again” calls-to-action, which were also used on retail signage and other communications. Dasani bottles will continue to feature this messaging. “We saw how much the 100% recycled PET message truly resonates with our customers and consumers, particularly Dasani fans whose sustainability expectations are especially high,” notes Vallette.
The move to 100% rPET is just the latest sustainable packaging innovation by the water brand, shares the company. Over the last decade, Dasani has unveiled a steady stream of what it describes as “footprint-reducing packaging breakthroughs,” including the PlantBottle; the HybridBottle, which fused rPET, PlantBottle plant-based plastic material, and virgin PET; aluminum cans and bottles; Dasani PureFill package-less water dispensers; and its bottle caps made from recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic, an industry first, according to the Coca-Cola.
Sprite gets transparent
Also this past summer, Aug. 1, 2022, to be exact, Sprite shifted all its PET packaging from the brand’s signature green color to clear plastic. Explains Coca-Cola, although green PET is recyclable, the recycled material is more often converted into single-use items like clothing and carpeting that cannot be recycled into new PET bottles. During the sorting process, green and other colored PET is separated from clear material to avoid discoloring recycled food-grade packaging required to make new PET bottles.
“Taking colors out of bottles improves the quality of the recycled material,” says Julian Ochoa, CEO, R3CYCLE, which is working with Coca-Cola Consolidated to enable bottle-to-bottle recycling across the largest U.S. bottler’s 14 state-territory. “This transition will help increase availability of food-grade rPET. When recycled, clear PET Sprite bottles can be remade into bottles, helping drive a circular economy for plastic.”
Adds Vallette, “Sprite’s move to clear will help us introduce more 100% rPET bottles like Dasani is launching and keep more bottles in the circular economy.”
In addition to transitioning to clear bottles, Sprite is introducing a new visual identity system featuring a revamped logo and packaging design to provide a consistent look and voice around the world. Sprite’s packaging graphics will retain the brand’s recognizable green hue and include prominent “Recycle Me” messaging.
Sprite is just the first of Coca-Cola’s green-bottle beverage brands to make the switch. In October, Fresca, Seagram’s, and Mello Yello will also convert from green to clear plastic.