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Why Sprite Bottles Are Going Clear

Coca-Cola’s North American sustainability director shares objectives behind eco-friendlier bottles
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Coca Cola Dasani
As part of its sustainability commitment, Coca-Cola is introducing Dasani bottles made from 100% recycled PET plastic.

The Coca-Cola Co. is clear on going green – even if that means replacing the iconic green Sprite bottle. As part of its efforts to improve sustainability through better recycling, Coca-Cola announced that it is transitioning its Sprite products from green to clear plastic bottles, beginning Aug. 1.

Although green bottles are recyclable, colored bottles are typically separated from clear material during the recycling process to avoid discoloring the recycled food-grade packaging required to make new PET bottles. By going to clear bottles for Spite – and later, Fresca, Seagram’s and Mellow Yellow drinks – Coca-Cola aims to increase the availability of food-grade PET.

In addition to that update, the company is switching to 100% recycled PET (rPET) plastic for most of its Dasani bottled water products, excluding the caps and labels. Affected sizes include 20-oz. and 1.5-liter single-use bottles and multipacks with 10-oz. and 12-oz. bottles.

The changes help Coca-Cola get closer to its pledge to remove the equivalent of 2 billion virgin plastic bottles from production by 2027 compared to 2021 levels. Last fall, the company rolled out its first beverage bottle made from 100% plant-based plastic.

Anton Van Zyl, Coca-Cola’s director of sustainability for North America, told Progressive Grocer in a recent interview that the company has focused on improving the circular economy through these kinds of changes and through its on-package messaging encouraging consumers to recycle. “This launch is part of our goal of having 50% of our PET packaging made from recycled material,” he said.

Van Zyl emphasized the importance of collaboration and a shared approach to sustainability. “We believe partnerships and collective action are necessary to deliver a more sustainable business. We must look outside our company for ideas, inspiration and innovation,” he explained. “An all-hands-on-deck approach, led by players across the value chain who are best positioned to achieve results, is needed to drive reusable packaging solutions.”

End users are integral to the ultimate success of the circular economy, he added. “Specifically in the U.S., our best opportunity to make progress with refill/reuse is in our dispensed beverages where we have seen success with consumers adopting the reuse behavior. As we continue to grow this area, we are learning more about how consumers react to reusable packaging, and we are looking for opportunities to transition these learnings to other reusable formats like returnable and refillable bottles,” he explained.

Communication is key in achieving success in recycling, whether it’s the addition of a new logo on Coca-Cola products or other outreach efforts, Van Zyl added.  “A challenge in all reuse programs is ensuring that you get the package back to wash/reuse or that the consumer washes/reuses the package at home or on the go. So understanding consumer behavior across these scenarios will help us scale more solutions in the coming years,” he said.

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