Coca-Cola Co. is shutting down its recycling division, instead expressing a desire to work with outside suppliers for recyclables, including PET, to put back into new packaging.
“We are restructuring how we procure recyclable materials and will focus on developing our sources of supply,” Coca-Cola spokeswoman Sheree Robinson said Oct. 30.
The Atlanta-based soft-drink giant established Coca-Cola Recycling in 2007.
“Instead of focusing on that area, we have suppliers that we work with. That's what they do. And working better and more closely aligned with them is the direction we want to head,” Robinson said in a phone interview.
Coca-Cola also issued a statement that outlines its decision to discontinue the recycling division while still pushing to make its packaging more sustainable.
“In the U.S., we will continue to work more directly with our value chain to increase the use of recycled materials. As the industry is evolving, we no longer need to directly engage in the buying and selling of recyclable materials,” the company said.
“Coca-Cola will continue to work with our suppliers, customers and industry to increase recycled content in our packaging,” the company said.
The company's decision to shutter Coca-Cola Recycling could be viewed as part of a larger push for change throughout the company.
“We're restructuring our global supply chain, including optimizing our manufacturing footprint in North America and investing in technology to further streamline our operations,” CEO Muthar Kent said on a recent conference call to discuss third quarter earnings.
“We're streamlining and simplifying our operating model, which will enhance our speed and agility and result in lower operating expenses over time,” he continued.
Coca-Cola previously invested heavily in a PET bottle-to-bottle recycling plant in Spartanburg, S.C., that suffered from operational problems. The site opened in 2009, but shut down for six months in 2011, and Coke eventually sold its stake.
The Spartanburg site went on what was described in a local newspaper as indefinite idle earlier this year.
Robinson said the previous decision to step away from the Spartanburg site was independent of the most recent move to end operations at Coca-Cola Recycling.
“It's pretty much winded down. I don't have all of the details around how exactly that will work. By the end of the year, it will probably be winded down completely by then,” Robinson said.