AKRON, OHIO - In the wake of unexpected growth in the use of PET to replace other packaging materials and increased activity in plastics recycling, Coca-Cola Co. is evaluating its options carefully. The beverage and consumer products maker is staying ahead of the game in considering packaging innovations, said Michael Gage, principal packaging engineer for corporate packaging at Coca-Cola, at ARC '95 recycling conference in Akron.
``The Coca-Cola system uses 25 percent of all the PET used in packaging worldwide,'' Gage said, ``and given that position, we are very interested in recycling.''
From Coke's perspective, he said, it is necessary to protect its choice of plastic and PET, and the credibility and recyclability of the material.
``Since the mid-80s we have tried to close the loop in many ways from embracing methanolysis, glycolysis, multilayer packaging and blending,'' he said. ``There is no doubt that the quality of recycled PET has improved, and that recycled materials have gained greater acceptance.''
He said the firm is watching the collection, availability, economical sortation technology and regulatory climates for recycled PET. Coke, based in Atlanta, uses post-consumer material in multilayer constructions in New Zealand, Australia and the United States, but is not committing to any technology or material for commercial production of containers in this country, Gage said.
``We also have been keeping track of the regulatory climate and are interested in the industry convincing regulators that technology exists to make recyclate use possible with no risk, as well as backing advancements which could make its use more economically attractive.'' he said.