Coca-Cola GB to stop using non-recycled plastic in on-the-go bottles

Coca-Cola Great Britain (GB), in partnership with Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP), has today announced that it is set to reach a significant milestone for its packaging in Great Britain.

The soft drinks giant announced that it will be using 100% recycled plastic in all on-the-go bottles across its entire range, as it continues its progress towards fully sustainable packaging.

The move means that all plastic bottles of 500ml or less in GB are to be made with 100% recycled plastic and will continue to be fully recyclable. The rollout commences in September, when the first 100% recycled 500ml bottles will start appearing on shelves.  This milestone means Coca-Cola Great Britain will increase the amount of recycled plastic material in smaller bottles from 50% to 100%.

This milestone means Coca-Cola will have increased the amount of recycled plastic material in smaller bottles from 50% to 100%.  Coca-Cola’s use of recycled plastics in Great Britain now saves 29,000 tonnes of virgin plastic each year – the equivalent of 2,292 double decker buses.

This change is another step on Coca-Cola’s journey towards 100% recycled or renewable plastic in all its bottles, and the creation of a circular economy for its PET packaging. The company is also completing the transition from plastic shrink wrap to cardboard packaging across all multipacks. This important action will mean that more than 30 million packs sold to consumers each year will no longer be wrapped in plastic.

Although all of Coca-Cola’s bottles have been 100% recyclable for many years, too many are still not being recycled. To make it easier to recycle plastic bottles Coca-Cola has been working closely with the Scottish and Westminster governments and industry partners on a ‘well-designed Deposit Return Scheme (DRS)’. This will encourage more people to recycle and ensure a greater collection of bottles in a clean, efficient way so that they can be remade into new bottles again and again.

An effective DRS is planned for implementation in Scotland by July next year with England and Wales following thereafter.

Stephen Moorhouse, general manager at CCEP GB, said: “Increasing the amount of recycled plastic we use is a critical point in our sustainable packaging journey and reaching 100%rPET puts us one step closer to achieving our ambition of a world without waste – collecting and recycling a bottle or can for every one that we sell by 2025.”

Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, said: “I am delighted to see Coca-Cola Great Britain taking this significant step to ensure its on-the-go bottles are made from 100% recycled plastic.

“We are committed to crack down on plastic pollution through our landmark reforms such as a deposit return scheme for drinks containers and making manufacturers more responsible for their packaging. Bold measures of this nature from industry will play a huge role in helping us to achieve this ambition.”

Helen Bird, strategic technical manager, WRAP, said: “It takes 75% less energy to make a plastic bottle from recycled plastic, and with plastic waste significantly contributing to fossil emissions when incinerated it’s never been more important to specify recycled content and keep packaging in a circular system. It’s positive to see Coke, founding members of The UK Plastics Pact, continuing to push the boundaries on design and engaging with its customers to place the bottles in the recycling, since achieving 100% recycled content is going to be strongly reliant on getting those bottles back.”

More broadly, Coca-Cola continues to use the power of its brands and advertising in order to encourage people to recycle more – from launching major advertising campaigns, to including recycling messages on its packaging, in all marketing campaigns and experiential events.

Earlier this month the company launched a new marketing campaign for its GLACÉAU Smartwater brand, encouraging more people to recycle the bottles. Bold messaging on-pack reminds consumers that the bottles are 100% recyclable and made from 100% recycled PET plastic (rPET).



Aptar partners with REBO for launch of smart, reusable water bottle

Aptar Food + Beverage has announced a partnership with REBO on a reusable water bottle that uses smart technology to help customers stay hydrated, all while funding the collection of tossed-away plastic bottles in developing countries.

The REBO water bottle uses Bluetooth technology embedded in its cap to track the amount of water consumed. A personalized hydration app (iOS and Android) syncs with the REBO bottle’s smart cap to track health goals. The bottle lights up and sends consumers reminders to stay hydrated.

Meanwhile, every time the user refills the REBO bottle, a credit is produced which funds the collection of a tossed-away plastic bottle. This is part of the business model that REBO has created to enable the funding of ocean-bound plastic waste collections in developing regions

On a macro level, Aptar has committed to increasing the amount of recycled material in its products and improving the recyclability, reusability, or composability of their products by 2025, as aligned with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Commitment.

“Aptar is committed to contributing to a more circular economy that will help our customers and partners achieve their sustainability targets, while creating a positive impact on our people and the planet,” says Jerome Magniet, president of global market development at Aptar.

“The partnership with REBO allows us to advance our market knowledge for emerging trends and leverage our manufacturing, regulatory, and innovation expertise.”

“Progressing on the battle against plastic waste in our oceans is in our hands,” adds PierAndrea Quarta, founder and CEO of REBO. “REBO puts technology in your hands to make an immediate impact on the environment while you drink.”

Earlier this year, REBO joined Adidas and Parley in the fight against plastic waste with the creation of a limited-edition bottle for Run for the Oceans 2021, a movement that sought to unite over 50 million people against plastic waste.



Tetra Pak’s Packaging Circularity Plan Centers on Lowering Carbon

The largest global food packaging company keeps its focus on renewable, low-carbon materials and sustainable machinery

“This is not about a war on plastics. It’s about a war on carbon,” says Trewin Restorick, founder/CEO of Hubbub, a charity that collaborates with communities on campaigns that “inspire ways of living that are good for the environment.”

That’s an interesting take on sustainability today because, over the past several years, plastic packaging waste has become the poster child for what’s wrong with our consumption society and its wasteful actions.

Restorick made this comment during a webinar hosted by Reuters Events Sustainable Business in partnership with Tetra Pak on January 19, 2021. (Restorick also serves on Tetra Pak’s sustainability advisory board.)

At the beginning of the “Redesigning products through a circular lens” webinar, moderator Ms. Terry Slavin, editor-in-chief of Reuters Events Sustainable Business, acknowledges the current negative perception of plastics by many in society. And then she points out that, despite the emphasis on recycling because it is the most visible action for consumers, “We can’t recycle our way out of the plastics crisis.”

Restorick agrees. “Businesses and governments and others need to broaden the conversation,” he says, “so people understand this is more than just about recycling.”

So, what can companies do? Well, let’s look at what the largest food packaging company, Tetra Pak, is doing: Focusing on lowering carbon emissions to mitigate the company’s climate impact, which is the broader, underlying environmental issue.

What story do the numbers tell?

On its quest to become the world’s most sustainable packaging company, in June 2020, Tetra Pak set a new target: To achieve net zero carbon emissions in its own operations by 2030, on its way to reaching net zero carbon emissions across its value chain by 2050.

Like most sustainability journeys, this one takes it a step at a time. Initially, Tetra Pak had decided to cap its 2020 emissions at the level it was in 2010, even though the company has grown more than 15% during that decade. The result? Tetra Pak actually reduced emissions by 11% over those years.

Lars Holmquist, webinar speaker and Tetra Pak’s evp for Packaging Solutions & Commercial Operations, says this proves that “decoupling growth and climate impact is, indeed, possible.”

Tetra Pak expects to reach its 2030 goal of net zero carbon emissions through a four-pronged strategy:

1. Lower energy-related emissions through energy conservation and improvement in energy efficiency. Tetra Pak is currently on track to meet the 2030 goal of using 100% renewable energy, according to Holmquist.

2. Establish partnerships with suppliers and other stakeholders to identify ways to significantly reduce the carbon footprint, and act on them. “[Partnerships are] critical,” says Holmquist. “We cannot do this on our own.”

3. Accelerate development of low-carbon, circular packaging materials — identified as renewable, recyclable, or recycled-content — and equipment to assist customers in meeting their sustainability goals, while also helping to keep food products safe and reduce food waste.

For example, Tetra Pak is working to develop an all-fiber package, made of 100% renewable material, and eliminate the approximately 30% polyethylene and aluminum components that exist in the current package. (The other 70%, give or take, is fiber.) Another benefit of that future pack is that it will be recyclable through existing collection programs for cartons, including curbside.

In the meantime, Tetra Pak is also exploring bio-based and compostable polymers and, if proven to be a viable solution, will include it in the company’s pipeline.

4. Develop sustainable recycling value chains via collaboration with customers, waste management companies, recyclers, municipalities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and others.

The reality of fiber packaging.

What Tetra Pak isn’t doing, though, is looking at reusable packaging, which is getting more legitimacy with American consumers as businesses, such as the Loop circular shopping platform, thrive.

Holmquist isn’t rejecting it as an option per say, asserting that “anything a packaging company can do to reduce, rapidly, the impact that our packages have on the environment is the way to go.” But the company prefers to focus on (1) reducing carbon emissions overall, and (2) expanding renewable, recyclable, and recycled content that is responsibly sourced for two valid reasons:

“Reuse is not the main purpose of a fiber package …” says Holmquist, meaning paper doesn’t hold up in water/wash cycles.

“One important element is about food safety,” he asserts. “We need to make sure — and increasingly so after COVID because of the concerns consumers really do have on food safety in general — that the products we distribute are, indeed, always safe to consume ….”Photo supplied by Tetra PakTetra-Pak-Sustainable_package_Lineup-web.jpg

The Tetra Top with Separable Top allows separation of the plastic top and paperboard carton sleeve for easy recycling. Tetra Pak gives customers the option to manufacture Tetra Top with Separable Top at no additional cost to them.

Measurement standards exist.

Regarding how it measures its carbon footprint, Tetra Pak adheres to the GHG Protocol, which Holmquist tells us is “widely acknowledged as the leading methodology for the management of greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Protocol requires Tetra Pak to report on emissions in three areas, or scopes:

• Scope 1: Direct emissions from its own operations, including fuel consumption and the use of solvents and refrigerants.
• Scope 2: Indirect emissions related to purchased electricity, heat, steam, or cooling.
• Scope 3: Indirect emissions in the company’s value chain from sources not owned or controlled by Tetra Pak.

Currently, most large global companies account and report on the emissions from their direct operations (Scopes 1 and 2). However, Tetra Pak claims that emissions along the value chain often represent a company’s biggest greenhouse gas impacts. That’s why, in June 2020, Tetra Pak set a goal to achieve net zero emissions across the value chain by 2050 (Scope 3), with the intermediate goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions in its own operations by 2030.

For products, the company adheres to The International Organization for Standardization, specifically ISO 14044 “Environmental management — Life cycle assessment — Requirements and guidelines” and ISO 14067 “Greenhouse gases — Carbon footprint of products — Requirements and guidelines for quantification.”

Tetra Pak reports on its GHG emissions according to the GHG Protocol principles through its website, its Sustainability Report, and in the annual CDP Supply Chain Climate Program.

What does the sustainable packaging community think?

The Q&A portion of the well-attended webinar reveals the burning thoughts, concerns, and challenges other people have who are responsible for packaging sustainability.

One participant asked, “There is the need to get the message out about packaging and it needs to be simple. So why can’t we have a traffic light system for carbon?”

According to Holmquist, “In principle, a traffic light system seems useful. However, we need to take a holistic environmental approach to sustainability, rather than focusing on one specific element — such as packaging. Only by seeing circular economy models through a climate-lens will we decarbonize materials fast enough to protect our planet.”

Not all of the questions were answered during the webinar, but the questions themselves are still enlightening. Here is a spattering of other questions participants asked:

“How can we get the message across about plastic not being the devil and that there are circumstances where it is appropriate and beneficial to use??”

“Everything is, given enough time, biodegradable, so this is misleading. Look at the problem in China with biodegradable plastics, which are piling up because consumption doesn’t change and the time to biodegrade it is longer than what the industry can process. How can we change the message to focus on reduce and reuse to change behavior so that the industry can focus on environmental and CO2 neutral packaging?”

“When do we move to regenerative packaging and products?”

“Ahead of mass market biodegradability / compostability being the ‘norm’ potentially in years to come, do you think there is a place for local authorities / consumer representation to engage with brands / private label organisations (sic) at the product design stage to enable greater transparency across the supply chain?”

Takeaways from a global packaging manufacturer and supplier.

To me, the main takeaways from Tetra Pak’s sustainability goals and tactics are:

• The ultimate goal is to minimize a company’s climate impact for the good of the planet.
• The best way to measure that impact is through carbon emissions.
• A global standard for measuring carbon emissions exists and that’s what Tetra Pak uses.
• A company can cut carbon emissions even while growing its business.
• Packaging contributions for reducing carbon emissions include more than just using recyclable materials. Minimal, renewable, and responsibly sourced packaging materials, as well as recycled content, also count. Reusability should also be considered, if the packaging material allows for it.
• It shouldn’t be a war against plastic packaging, or any other single packaging material, design, or process.
• Progress on reaching a sustainability goal can/should be incremental.

“As most of the global greenhouse gas emissions are either directly or indirectly influenced by the corporate sector,” says Holmquist, “companies have a clear role to play in protecting climate and ensuring that the transition to a low-carbon circular economy is smooth and prosperous.”