Sugar cane and molasses will sere as source for materials to be used in the production of Coca-Cola bottles. Named PlantBottles, these will be made of up to 30 per cent of this plant-based materials, with the rest from a blend of petroleum-based materials. Unlike many other plant-based plastics it can be processed through existing recycling facilities without contaminating traditional PET plastics.
Preliminary research had shown that the growing of the plant materials and resin production techniques mean that the carbon footprint for the PlantBottle packaging is up to 25 per cent lower than for bottles made with traditional PET.
The first wave of PlantBottles will be distributed in Denmark, Western Canada, and select markets in the Western United States, including Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The company added that future launches are already being planned in other markets, including Brazil, Japan and Mexico and for China’s Shanghai Expo in 2010.
Scott Vitters, director of sustainable packaging at The Coca-Cola Company said that the launch of the new bottle was the first phase in a wide-ranging project to reduce the environmental impact of the company’s packaging, adding that the long term aim was “to achieve a bottle that is made with 100 per cent plant-waste material while remaining completely recyclable”.
The company also revealed that it was aiming to produce two billion PlantBottles by the end of 2010 and identify techniques for turning non-food, plant-based waste, such as wood chips or wheat stalks, into recyclable PET plastic bottles.
Some environmental groups have raised questions about the environmental benefits of bioplastics, warning that as happened with biofuels, increased demand for crops could lead to food shortages and contribute to deforestation.
However, Dr. Jason Clay, senior vice president of market transformation for the WWF, said that Coca-Cola had taken precautionary measures to ensure its bio-plastic does not inadvertently lead to deforestation and increased emissions.
“Coca-Cola is currently sourcing raw materials for its PlantBottle from suppliers in Brazil, where third parties have verified that best-in-class agricultural practices are the norm,” he said. “Preserving natural resources through sustainable agriculture is essential for businesses like Coca-Cola as they search for ways to alleviate environmental challenges.”