Coca-Cola Co. hopes that its continuing series of recycling and sustainability initiatives will spark others to get involved and underscore that there is a strong demand for recycled PET.
We hope that our Spartanburg, S.C, plant [which opened in January] serves as a model for sustainable green business in years to come and will spark collective action by the industry, said Nilang Patel, senior vice president of innovation and development for Coca-Cola North America. Patel made his remarks in a keynote presentation June 23 at the PET Strategies conference held in conjunction with NPE2009.
We are investing in recycling infrastructure to send a message to collectors that domestic demand for recycled material will continue to grow, Patel said. By working collectively with other stakeholders and consumers, we believe we can improve recycling rates, which hover around 25 percent for PET in North America, he said.
Patel said Coke's PlantBottle, made of up to 30 percent plant-based material and 70 percent PET, will debut in the fourth quarter in some Dasani-brand water bottles and sparkling waters, and then roll out to vitamin water bottles in 2010.
The manufacturing is more environmentally friendly, has a 20 percent lower ecological footprint and can be processed on [existing] equipment, he said. It is fully recyclable.
Patel said the PlantBottle is just the first step in Coke's plan to use more renewable resources. Beyond plant bottles, we will continue to explore alternative materials to achieve our goal of zero waste, he said.
Coke has the following sustainability goals, Patel said:
* To reduce its packaging weight per liter sold by seven percent by 2015 and to have 25 percent recycled content in its PET bottles by 2015.
* To recover 30 percent of its bottles and cans by 2010.
* To eventually reach 100 percent bottle and can recovery.
In the U.S, 36 percent of Coke products are packaged in PET and 27 percent in aluminum, with another 32 percent sold as fountain drinks, according to Patel. Outside the U.S., 57 percent of Coke products are sold in PET, 14 percent in aluminum, 12 percent in glass and 12 percent sold as fountain drinks, Patel said.
We need to collect more materials, he said, adding that Coke currently recovers about 20 percent of its PET.
Patel reiterated several of the programs that Coke has put together to increase collect- ion, including sponsorship of collections at major festivals and sporting events, and its investment in the Recycle Bank program, which currently provides recycling rewards to consumers in 35 communities.
He also pointed to the 2 million pounds of material that Coca-Cola Recycling has collected in two years through its 30 recycling centers at bottling plants and the 5,700 recycling bins it purchased in partnership with the National Recycling Coalition.
The bins were placed in 150 communities in 48 states and the District of Columbia over the past two years. Coke and NRC also set up RecycleMania collection programs on college campuses.
We are helping to develop an infrastructure so plastics are collected, recycled and reused, said Patel. We want to make a positive difference in the world by helping people rethink how we live and work.
He directed NPE-goers to a Web site (www.livepositively .com) that provides consumers with information on how to get involved in recycling.
From a policy standpoint, we support incentives designed to get consumers to recycle more and to use less, Patel said. Environmental stewardship requires a collaborative effort with multiple partners.
This is an aggressive and comprehensive strategy to achieve sustainability and zero waste. We have an opportunity to make a difference and to demonstrate that we can be trusted to do the right thing, he said.
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