Coca-Cola Canada Takes Early Lead in the Race to Circular Economy
Moving the needle on packaging sustainability in a really meaningful way is naturally getting trickier all the time, as companies large and small continue to jump on the sustainability bandwagon en masse to demonstrate their commitment to the cause with presumably more sustainable packaging options for their products.
While all these efforts are commendable, they often lack the critical mass or scale to produce quick, tangible and far-reaching results that make a significant contribution to larger efforts to fight global warming and climate change.
Part of that is due to the fact that packaging is actually less of a contributor to the global warming than it is often portrayed to be and, frankly, not all seemingly sustainable packaging options are cut from the same cloth in terms of their effectiveness, reliability and availability.
So with that said, the recent announcement by Coca-Cola Canada that it intends to switch all of its 500-ml PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles sold in Canada to same-sized 100 per cent recycled PET containers packs a lot of promise in what shapes up to be a truly enormous undertaking for the soft-drink giant next year.
According to The Coca-Cola Company, all of its 500-ml sparkling beverage bottles sold in Canada will be made with 100 per cent recycled plastic—excluding caps and labels—by early 2024.
This will mark the first time that the 500-ml sparkling beverages will be sold in bottles made from 100 per cent recycled plastic in Canada, which sounds a little late in the game for a company that has been championing packaging sustainability for a great many years, but being a killjoy is neither here nor there.
According to the company’s early estimates, the nationwide initiative is projected to save 7.6 million pounds of new plastic in 2024 alone, as well as eliminate nearly 7,000 metric tons of carbon emissions annually—a rough equivalent of taking 1,500 cars off the road.
“With this transition, no virgin PET plastic will be used for our sparkling 500-ml bottles under normal circumstances going forward in Canada,” says Kurt Ritter, vice-president and general manager for sustainability at Coca-Cola North America.
“We hope that transitioning our 500-ml sparkling portfolio to 100 per cent recycled plastic will increase the amount of high-quality, food-grade, recycled plastic available in Canada and, ultimately, enable us to offer more of our brands in this sustainable format.”
As Ritter asserts, bottles made with 100 per cent recycled plastic help create and sustain a Circular Economy for plastic packaging.
Once the material (PET) is recycled, it is cleaned, sorted and ground into small flakes that become raw material for more new bottles. To build awareness and encourage consumers to continue recycling bottles, all the 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles will feature visible Recycle Me Again messaging.
For all proud patriotic Canadians, the fact that all these new bottles will be manufactured in Canada—specifically by the Coca-Cola Canada Bottling plants in Brampton, Ont., Calgary, Alta., and Lachine, Que.—is another good reason to give credit where credit is clearly merited.
“We are proud to partner with The Coca-Cola Company on our transition to 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles across Canada,” says Todd Parsons, chief executive officer of Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Limited, which employs about 6,000 Canadians at its coast-to-coast operations.
“We’re on a journey to be the leading beverage partner in Canada,” Parsons states, “and one of the ways we’re doing that is by earning our social license to operate by driving a Circular Economy for our packaging.
“Every one of these 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles represents meaningful progress on that journey.”
It’s a wonderful thought: let’s hope it lives up to all the hope, hype and expectations. Cheers!