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Industry NewsCoca-Cola Canada shifts to 100% recycled plastic for 500ml bottles

Coca-Cola Canada shifts to 100% recycled plastic for 500ml bottles

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Coca-Cola has transitioned to using recycled plastic for all 500ml bottles in its sparkling beverage portfolio in Canada.

Excluding caps and labels, the shift will apply to popular brands such as Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta and more.

“When you look at a single bottle, it weighs only 21 grams,” Mika Unterman, director of sustainability capabilities and planning at The Coca-Cola Company in Canada, told the Globe & Mail. “…When you think about how many of those bottles are out there, that leads to a cumulative impact. 

“What that means on an annual basis for the Canadian market is 7,000 metric tons of CO2,” adds Unterman, explaining that recycled plastic has a lower carbon footprint than virgin plastic. “That’s the equivalent of taking 1,500 cars off the road each year.”

Making this change wasn’t easy, she says. Coca-Cola says it had to make sure the new bottles were safe and worked well. Plus, the company needed to get enough recycled plastic to make all the bottles. 

Coca-Cola is also working with other companies to reduce plastic waste. They’re part of a group called the Canada Plastics Pact. The group wants to use less harmful packaging and come up with new ideas.

“By announcing our move to recycled bottles, we are signalling to the recycling industry at large how serious we are,” says Unterman. “These are problems that require collaboration, no one can do this in isolation.

“Fortunately, the Canadian consumer is already so dedicated to recycling. We don’t need to convince Canadians to recycle. Instead, we’re showing them that when they do recycle, we’re taking care of things from there.”

To that end, Coca-Cola is aiming to reuse recycled plastic bottles where possible instead of turning them into recycled polyester. 

“The beauty of rPET is that a bottle can have many lives and dramatically reduce the need for new virgin plastic,” says Unterman.

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