A Friendlier “Pause the Refreshes”

by Dennis Machicao

There is good news on the horizon concerning the material that is used to package our products in plastic containers. In an article published in the January 2012 edition of Packaging Digest, a publication for the packaging industry, John Kalkowski writes about Coca Cola’s advancement in moving away from non-renewable plastic packaging to a 100% plant based material to produce its soda bottles.

It seems that Coca Cola has entered into an agreement with three different resin manufacturers, one in Madison Wisconsin, one in Luverne, Minnesota and one in the Netherlands that have developed the technology to produce 100% plant based materials to manufacture bottles to meet Coca Cola’s high standards. Coca Cola plans to have in place this next generation PlantBottle, made of 100% plant base material, in its complete line by year 2015.

Coca Cola has been using a first generation PlantBottle since 2009 that was manufactured with 30% plant based material. According to the article, 10 billion of these bottles have been distributed in 20 countries.

In a news conference in December 2011, Coca Cola announced its agreement with these manufacturers to develop “plant-based alternatives to materials traditionally made from fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources” the article says.

The juice brand Odwalla that is under the Coca Cola umbrella of products is already packaged in a fully recyclable 100% plant base material. Not to get too technical, the material used to make the Odwalla bottles is HDPE (high-density polyethylene) plastic that is different than the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottle that is more suitable and shelf stable for carbonated liquids. To develop a plant base PET resin took more R&D time than HDPE.

Since Coca Cola has this technology, they are also now looking to share it with other companies. Coca Cola, earlier this year, announced a partnership with H.J. Heinz Co. allowing them to produce ketchup bottles using PlantBottle technology that was launched this past summer in the U.S.

So that definitely is progress in the way companies are looking to more green alternatives in package their products. Although the R&D to produce these green containers was quite costly, Coca Cola is not passing on the cost to the consumers. Kudos to Coca Cola for putting the environment first and not profits. We hope that more and more companies will take Coca Cola’s lead in making the products we know and love more earth friendly.

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