Drinks giant Coca-Cola is conducting a trial of paper-based bottles. This could be a major step towards reducing the amount of waste the company produces if the trial is widely adopted.
Researchers have named Coca-Cola as the world’s worst plastic polluting company with a plastic footprint of 2.9 million tonnes per year according to data from the Changing Markets Foundation. However, the soft drinks firm is fighting back with a long-term aim of eliminating plastic waste from its products entirely.
The prototype bottle has a strong paper exterior cover, with a plastic cap and a thin lining produced from recycled polyethene terephthalate (PET). Coca-Cola said the ultimate goal of the project is to develop a bottle without the plastic liner that can be recycled as paper.
Over the next decade, the company has pledged to collect and recycle 100% of the cans and bottles it sells – while producing zero waste.
The prototype of the paper bottle is being developed in collaboration with several companies including Coca‑Cola, The Paper Bottle Company (Paboco), L’Oréal and Absolut.
“The trial we are announcing is a milestone for us in our quest to develop a paper bottle”, said Daniela Zahariea, director of technical supply chain and innovation for Coca‑Cola Europe.
“People expect Coca‑Cola to develop and bring to market new, innovative and sustainable types of packaging. That’s why we are partnering with experts like Paboco, experimenting openly and conducting this first-in-market trial.”
Tim Silbermann, project manager of product development at Paboco said: “The collaboration with The Coca-Cola Company is really great and shows the wonderful capabilities of paper – especially in the design with the unique texture.
“To reduce the plastic weight of the barrier film while keeping the wide mouth opening was challenging, but I am excited about the learning from filling line tests and end consumer feedback. Those will play a major role in developing further towards our goal.”
In December 2020 Coca-Cola was named as the world’s worst plastic polluter for the third year in a row by campaigning group Break Free From Plastic. An annual audit of plastic waste found on beaches, parks, rivers, and communities across the globe found Coca-Cola bottles and were the worst offender.
Coca-Cola’s branding was discovered on 13,834 pieces of plastic at 51 of the 55 sites surveyed – more than the combined total of rivals Nestlé, with 8,633 bottles, and PepsiCo at 5,155 pieces of waste, who were the second- and third-worst polluters.