Coca-Cola is discontinuing the iconic green Sprite bottle to shift to clear plastic from August 1st in a bid to become more environmentally responsible. The US arm of the global beverage company is saying goodbye to the green bottle packaging after a successful run of 60 years.
With this, the company aims to make soda bottle recycling easier as government bodies continue to pressure beverage companies to cut down on plastic waste generation.
The current green bottles contain green polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which can be used to remake single-use items like clothes. However, it cannot be recycled to make new bottles.
According to Julian Ochoa, CEO of R3CYCLE, a plastic group helping Coca-Cola:
"Taking colors out of bottles improves the quality of the recycled material. When recycled, clear PET Sprite bottles can be remade into bottles, helping drive a circular economy for plastic."
Other bottles under the Coca-Cola portfolio sold in green plastic bottles like Fresca, Seagram and Mello Yello will also meet the same fate in a few months.
Coca-Cola to change Sprite's iconic green bottle to help the environment
As it turns out, going green in packaging is harmful for the environment. The colored bottle contaminates the recycling stream and needs to be separated from the rest.
This increases the chances of the bottle ending up in landfills. Since the market for green plastic isn't too big either, recyclers do not make much money when they sell it to make new packaging.
Chris Vallette, Senior Vice President of Technical Innovation and Stewardship, The Coca-Cola Company explains:
"By making our bottles clear — a huge change for the brand — it makes them much more likely to go through the recycling system and come back to us as recycled PET."
The company will take this opportunity to give the Sprite logo a makeover while retaining the brand’s green hue and include prominent “Recycle Me” messaging.
This is a welcome change, as global efforts to reduce plastic pollution are in full swing in countries like the US, Canada, and India to protect the oceans and tackle climate change. Korea and Japan got the ball rolling almost two decades ago, when they ended the use of colored plastic to boost recycling.
Coca-Cola launched the World Without Waste initiative in 2018. Its aim was to make 100% of its packaging recyclable and get a bottle back for each one it sells by 2030.
To support this goal, the beverage giant will make Dassani bottles, which are sold in the USA and Canada out of 100% recycled plastic. By doing this alone, they can avoid an estimated 10,000 tons of virgin plastic next year.
However, this is still a small dent when you consider the 3 million tons of plastic the company uses every year.
Matt Littlejohn, Senior Vice President of Oceana, says that recycling bottles does not mean they will not end up polluting the environment. He adds that this is because only 30% of bottles are recycled while the rest end up in landfills.
To counter this issue, Littlejohn suggests expanding a refillable model and investing in curbside recycling and infrastructure.
In its efforts to save the environment and improve recycling activities, the British arm of the company began rolling out new versions of plastic bottles with attached lids. Plastic bottle caps are made from high-density Polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP) – both of which are in high demand for recycling.
However, most of the time, customers send bottles for recycling without the caps. The attached cap design aims to make recycling the entire package a lot easier, preventing the caps from ending up in landfills.