“We continue to put consumers at the centre of all we do. One way to do that is by offering sustainable packaging types. Accelerating use of reusable packages provides added value for consumers and customers while supporting our World Without Waste goal to collect a bottle or can for every one we sell by 2030,” said Elaine Bowers Coventry, chief customer and commercial officer, The Coca-Cola Company.
The company’s World Without Waste initiative remains focused on its three core pillars:
Design: Make all primary consumer packaging recyclable by 2025. Use 50% recycled material in packaging by 2030.
Collect: Collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one we sell by 2030.
Partner: Bring people together to support a healthy, debris-free environment.
By increasing its use of reusable packaging, Coca-Cola states that it promotes a circular economy as refillable containers have high levels of collection and are low-carbon-footprint beverage containers, because the container collection is built into the beverage delivery model.
As the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) notes in its Reuse: Rethinking Packaging report, converting 20% of global plastic packaging into reuse models is a $10bn business opportunity that benefits customers and represents a crucial element in the quest to eliminate plastic waste and pollution.
Returnable glass bottles and refillable PET currently represent more than 50% of The Coca-Cola Company’s product sales in more than 20 markets, and more than 25% of sales in another 20 markets.
Traditional refillable/returnable packaging accounted for approximately 16% of the company’s total volume in 2020. Use of refillables is growing in several markets, outperforming non-refillables in Germany and parts of Latin America, where reusable bottles represented 27% of transactions in 2020.
Markets around the world have increased their focus on refillable packaging in recent years through initiatives that include:
• Expanding the rollout of the 'Universal Bottle' that was first introduced in 2018 by Coca-Cola Brazil and is now used in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Panama. This solution drives efficiency of collection, cleaning and filling by offering multiple sparkling and still brands in the same reusable bottle with a single colour, shape and size.
• Expanding the rollout of refillable 2-litre and 1.5-litre PET (RefPET) plastic bottles – which can be cleaned, refilled and reused before being recycled and made into new PET bottles – in South Africa.
• Collaborating with Carrefour to pilot a circular shopping system called Loop in France. Consumers can order a variety of products, including Coca-Cola beverages, delivered to their home in customised packaging that is collected, cleaned, refilled and reused or recycled.
• Partnering with Burger King and TerraCycle in the United States for a pilot programme in select cities to reduce single-use packaging waste by offering reusable food containers and beverage cups.
• Introducing reusable cups with microchip technology for use with Coca-Cola Freestyle machines for use at theme parks, and on university campuses and cruise ships.
The company said that these and other similar sustainability efforts helped pave the way for its new global reusable packaging target, which it said will require significant investment, particularly in markets with limited refillable/returnable infrastructure.
“Reusable packaging is among the most effective ways to reduce waste, use fewer resources and lower our carbon footprint in support of a circular economy,” said Ben Jordan, senior director, packaging and climate of The Coca-Cola Company.
“We will continue to highlight markets that are leading the way with reusable packaging best practices, and to support other markets as they increase their use of reusable packaging,” Jordan said, adding that each market will approach the goal in a different way.”