Coca-Cola Australia and Coca-Cola Amatil have today committed to making 70 per cent of the beverage giant’s plastic bottles entirely from recycled plastic by the end of 2019.
All small packages, 600ml and under, from brands like Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta, Mount Franklin and Pump (750ml) will be made from 100% recycled plastic.
The move by the world’s largest beverage company is the single largest increase in recycled plastic use in its history, and will see the company cut the use of around 16,000 tonnes of virgin plastic from its operations each year from 2020.
Vamsi Mohan Thati, President of Coca-Cola Australia told Inside FMCG that the decision to use 100 per cent recycled plastic in small bottles follows Mount Franklin’s successful transition to recycled plastic last year.
“Last year, we made the move with Mount Franklin to 100% recycled plastic… we tested it for a year and it performed really well,” Thati told Inside FMCG.
“Plastic is a valuable commodity, it can become a bottle again and be reused over and over again, so it need not be single use and that is what we are determined to prove.”
So with seven out of 10 bottles to be made from 100% recycled plastic, what will happen with the remainder?
“Well these are typically the larger bottles and we are still working through technical aspects [for these].”
“We need to ensure the strength of the bottle; there are material changes in its characteristics when it’s recycled versus fresh plastic virgin resin, so there’s a greater moisture content in the plastic when it is recycled, so we had to work through all those in the manufacturing process and beta testing… it’s a journey and we will learn and improve along the way.”
Coca-Cola also committed to collecting and recycling as many bottles and cans as it sells globally each year, by 2030. Thati said this is a very important part of the company’s plans.
“From a design aspect, everything we make is recyclable… but now we have to ensure that it is effectively recycled which is why we work closely with governments on container deposits schemes… We believe that a cost effective well run container deposit scheme ensures that the waste streams are cleaner and segregated and the more we support this and the more it improves, the more recycled content becomes available… so its a closed loop.”
Despite a consumer backlash against plastic in recent years, Thati said Coca-Cola hasn’t seen any big shift in the sales of plastic bottled drinks versus glasses or bottles but believes in the importance of being open and transparent with consumers about its efforts to tackle plastic waste.
“We believe in doing business the right way. Only if we recognised the size and extent of the problem, can we address it.”
“We think that by recognizing the problem, putting a big commitment out there and taking credible demonstrable steps towards achieving that goal, we think that we will receive support.
“This is what we’re increasingly seeing, this is what [consumers] expect big companies to do.”
Last year, the beverage giant made a global commitment to a World Without Waste, to increase recycled content and make all of its bottles and cans recyclable.