Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle is expanding beyond the company’s Dasani bottled water line in a new three-city pilot program. Customers at college campuses, convenience stores, sporting events and other outlets in Atlanta, Birmingham and Nashville can now buy some Coca-Cola beverage in a PlantBottle. Brands featured in the new PlantBottle pilot program include Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Sprite, Fanta Orange and Mello Yello in 12.5-ounce, 16-ounce and 20-ounce bottles.
Although Coca-Cola’s market extends far beyond the southeastern U.S., these three cities were chosen to participate in the pilot program for a variety of reasons. Birmingham and Nashville are home to two of the largest independent bottlers in the nation and a company-owned bottler is located in Atlanta. The cities’ regional proximity also allows Coca-Cola to use the same suppliers for the pilot products.
A traditional PET bottle is made from two ingredients, mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) and purified terephthalic acid (PTA). The PlantBottle is still a PET bottle but the MEG used is derived from sugarcane. Every PlantBottle manufactured for use in the United States is created using up to 30 percent plant-based materials.
In addition to the environmental benefits of using plant-based materials to create the plastic, the resulting bottle is fully recyclable, just like a standard PET bottle. Consumers don’t have to take any extra steps to recycle the product, simply place it with the rest of their PET recyclables.
According to Scott Vitters, general manager of the PlantBottle Packaging Innovation Platform, PlantBottle packaging initiatives are already responsible for the removal of 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The company has set a goal of using 100 percent plant-based material in its packaging by 2020.
Coca-Cola will gather data about the pilot project, which runs through May 2012, via consumer testing, qualitative information from suppliers, bottlers, and retail outlets and also directly from the customer through the company’s Coke.com/PlantBottle website. At that point, possible next steps include a pilot project with other Coca-Cola brands or an expansion of one of the six products included in the pilot project.
Photo: The Coca-Cola Company