The global conversation about plastic pollution— and calls for urgent, collaborative action—are intensifying. In South Africa, we continue to make progress on our ambitious sustainable packaging initiative, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
If we are to create truly circular economies, where waste is minimised and reuse of materials is maximised, the starting point is understanding that packaging materials have value. Importantly, we need to find ways to capture that value to prevent packaging from becoming waste at the end of its lifecycle.
That is why the Coca-Cola system is focusing on creating closed loop systems that can extract the maximum value from materials and products while in use and recovering, reusing, or recycling them after they have been used.
Coca-Cola’s World Without Waste strategy is an ambitious sustainable packaging initiative that aims to collect or recycle a bottle or can for each one we sell by 2030, and make 100% of our packaging recyclable by 2025. As part of this vision, through our product innovations we have committed to use at least 50% recycled material in our packaging by 2030.
In addition, it is Coca-Cola’s goal to reduce the use of virgin plastic by a cumulative three million metric tons globally by 2025.
Designing better bottles
The Coca-Cola World Without Waste strategy gives prominence to the entire packaging lifecycle—from how bottles and cans are designed and produced, to how they are recycled and repurposed. The strategy focuses on three pillars: design, collect and partner for a waste-free environment.
PET, the highest-volume packaging material, is valuable, versatile, lightweight, shatterproof and can be recycled into brand new PET plastic bottles, which can be reused or refilled. In South Africa, Coca-Cola’s 2L Returnable/Refillable PET bottles have been rolled out across select regions in the country and in various flavours, saving landfill space and reducing the use of virgin PET, while saving consumers money. Once this returnable PET bottle is returned to one of our bottlers, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA), it goes on a looped journey to be cleaned as per Coca-Cola's stringent requirements and is then refilled to start its next lifecycle. When the bottle reaches the end of its useable lifecycle, it joins the recycling value chain and is repurposed into another PET bottle.
In the Western Cape, our other bottling partner, Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages (CCPB) has been in the business of Returnables for almost 30 years with the launch of the 1.5L pack in 1992. Since then, they have invested in a Returnable Glass Bottle (RGB) production line and introduced a 300ml and 500ml bottle. CCPB now makes 11 flavours in 1.5L Returnable/Refillable PET bottles and the RGB packs are also available in different core flavours.
CCPB also introduced a paper label on 1.5L Returnable/Refillable PET bottles, 500ml and 300ml RGB bottles which has replaced the Applied Colour Label (ACL). Paper labels allow us to communicate to consumers on the ability to drive a culture and habit of “Returnable” among consumers and reduce waste as part of Coca-Cola’s World Without Waste pledge. It is also a great way to introduce Zero Products and Flavour extensions to all Returnable packaging.
The Coca-Cola Company has also taken another step in the right direction by moving from a full-shrink sleeve label to a part-shrink sleeve with a perforation for easy removal.
The company’s new product packaging innovations have compelled it to re-look the way it designs and manufactures packaging materials.
In South Africa, the Coca-Cola Company’s Sprite bottle went on a journey to clear packaging which means it is now more recyclable than before. Although the green PET plastic bottle was recyclable, its end-use market was limited. The new clear bottle allows for greater recyclability and increases its value to waste collectors and recyclers.
And the company also introduced Returnable Glass Bottles under the fruit juice blend brand, Cappy.
Read more about Coca-Cola’s World Without Waste here: https://www.coca-cola.co.za/sustainability/world-without-waste