The PlantBottle is undoubtedly a worthwhile innovation, as it reduces carbon emissions by up to 25% compared to petroleum-based bottles. That’s a drastic cut in emissions considering the millions of Dasani bottles manufactured each year. It’s a great marketing line, too–Coca-Cola plans on identifying the bottles with “on-package messaging and in-store point of sale displays”. But is it enough to save–or at least prop up–an industry plagued by falling sales and symbolic bans by local governments? As long as the bottled water industry still exists, better that it uses green bottles instead of purely petroleum-based ones.
Photo: Satya Vemuri
The “PlantBottle” is fully recyclable, has a lower reliance on a non-renewable resource, and reduces carbon emissions, compared with petroleum-based PET plastic bottles.
“The ‘PlantBottle™’ is a significant development in sustainable packaging innovation,” said Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. “It builds on our legacy of environmental ingenuity and sets the course for us to realize our vision to eventually introduce bottles made with materials that are 100 percent recyclable and renewable.”
Traditional PET bottles are made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource. The new bottle is made from a blend of petroleum-based materials and up to 30 percent plant-based materials.
“The Coca-Cola Company is a company with the power to transform the marketplace, and the introduction of the “PlantBottle™” is yet another great example of their leadership on environmental issues,” said Carter Roberts, President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund, U.S. “We are pleased to be working with Coke to tackle sustainability issues and drive innovations like this through their supply chain, the broader industry and the world.”
The “PlantBottle™” is currently made through an innovative process that turns sugar cane and molasses, a by-product of sugar production, into a key component for PET plastic. Coca-Cola is also exploring the use of other plant materials for future generations of the “PlantBottle™.”
Manufacturing the new plastic bottle is more environmentally efficient as well. A life-cycle analysis conducted by Imperial College London indicates the “PlantBottle™” with 30 percent plant-base material reduces carbon emissions by up to 25 percent, compared with petroleum-based PET.
Another advantage to the “PlantBottle™” is that, unlike other plant-based plastics, it can be processed through existing manufacturing and recycling facilities without contaminating traditional PET. So, the material in the “PlantBottle™” can be used, recycled and reused again and again.
Coca-Cola North America will pilot the “PlantBottle™” with Dasani and sparkling brands in select markets later this year and with vitaminwater in 2010. The innovative bottles will be identified through on-package messages and in-store point of sale displays. Web-based communications will also highlight the bottles’ environmental benefits.
“The ‘PlantBottle™’ represents the next step in evolving our system toward the bottle of the future,” said Scott Vitters, Director of Sustainable Packaging of The Coca-Cola Company. “This innovation is a real win because it moves us closer to our vision of zero waste with a material that lessens our carbon footprint and is also recyclable.”
The Coca-Cola Company — the first company to introduce a beverage bottle made with recycled plastic — has been focused on ensuring the sustainability of its packaging for decades. It has put resources behind creating packaging that is recyclable and investing in recycling infrastructure to ensure that its packages are collected, recycled and re-used. Earlier this year, the Company opened the world’s largest plastic bottle-to-bottle recycling plant in Spartanburg, S.C. The plant will produce approximately 100 million pounds of recycled PET plastic for reuse each year — the equivalent of nearly 2 billion 20-ounce Coca-Cola bottles. These efforts are all focused on helping “close the loop” on packaging use and produce truly sustainable packages for consumers.
However PlantBottle’s technically, the sludge is the waste residue from the toxins used to refine cane sugar. Not much better or directly “plant based.” Outside of quick-crash carbs, neither sugar nor its thicker, dirtier cousin supplies much in the way of essential nutrients. And does Coke source either from GMO or organic, sustainable suppliers? How renewable are they? We’re also left to wonder if Coca-Cola’s new bottle is biodegradable? Compostable?