Coca-Cola SA goes clear on Sprite from iconic green bottle to enhance recycling

SOUTH AFRICA – The Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) has embarked on the roll-out of its Sprite brand in new clear polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottle packaging, in a bid to boost recycling of the bottles.

The shift from its iconic green means that more Sprite bottles can be collected, recycled and reused to make new ones, reports Creamer’s Media.

The move is part of Coca-Cola’s ‘World Without Waste’ vision, which targets to collect and recycle100% of its packaging and manufacture its bottles using at least 50% recycled PET plastic by 2030.

The new look Sprite PET plastic bottles are already available on the shelf and the company expects that the previous green PET bottles will be phased out over the next few months.

“Although our previous green PET plastic bottles were recyclable, Sprite’s new clear bottle allows for greater recyclability and increases its value to waste collectors and recyclers.

“Removing the colour from Sprite bottles enables the reuse of more of the bottles our bottling partners sell, in the bottles they will make in the future,” said Coca-Cola Southern and East Africa sustainability head David Drew.

Further to changing the packaging, the company is working with both the formal and informal recycling industry to bolster its recycling efforts.

“As one of the founding members of the PET Recycling Company, we will continue to work with organisations in the food and beverage sector to help grow collection and recycling rates.  We also share best practice and innovation from a technology and production point of view.

“Furthermore, together with our bottling partners, we are working with informal collectors to develop models for waste reclaimer integration in municipal collection,” informs Drew.

In terms of managing the transition, Drew indicated that, as with any change to packaging, it is necessary to ensure consumers can still easily identify the variant or flavour of the product. 

“We’ve done our market research and tested various packaging designs to ensure that we have designed distinct labels and closures so that consumers are able to easily distinguish between the different Sprite variants and flavours,” he says.

Sprite is and will continue to be available and sold in green glass bottles. In time, the glass packaging will also migrate to a clear bottle.

Given that most of the company’s glass bottles are returnable and can be reused many times, the transition from green to clear will be much more gradual, informs Drew.

The launch of the new packaging will be supported by in store marketing and then online and other media platforms such as radio and television.

“The realities of Covid-19 will determine how quickly our communications will be in the market as we practice caution and prioritise the safety of staff and agencies during this period,” Drew notes.

In June, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa joined the South African Plastics Pact (SA Plastics Pact), along side other consumer goods company i.e. RCL Foods, plastic manufacturer Berry Astrapack, plastic pallet manufacturer Palletplast, the African Reclaimers Organisation and the African Circular Economy Network.

The SA Plastics Pact was launched in January and is managed by green economy nonprofit organisation GreenCape.

It was developed by the World Wide Fund for Nature, in partnership with the South African Plastics Recycling Organisation and a British charity called Waste & Resources Action Programme, to bolster commitment towards keeping plastics in the economy and out of the environment.

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