Coca-Cola US launches plant-derived plastic bottles

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 13th April 2011

Coca-Cola PlantBottleThe Coca-Cola Company has launched new plant-based recyclable plastic bottles for its Dasani bottled water and Odawalla juices, juice drinks, smoothies and protein drinks across the US. The new PlantBottle packaging is made from sugarcane ethanol instead of fossil fuels.

Single-serve Odwalla packages are made from “up to 100 percent” plant-based materials with high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic. PET bottles for Dasani are made with “up to 30 percent” plant-based materials.

The company has also licensed the PlantBottle packaging technology to Heinz, which recently announced it will begin packaging its ketchup in PlantBottles in the US this summer.

“It’s our goal to make traditional plastic bottles a thing of the past and ensure that every beverage we produce is available in 100 percent plant-based, fully recyclable packaging,” said Scott Vitters, General Manager, PlantBottle Packaging Platform, The Coca-Cola Company.  “The national launch of Dasani PlantBottle packaging represents an important step toward reducing our carbon footprint, and the up to 100 percent plant-based, recyclable packaging used for Odwalla is the first of its kind in the beverage industry.”

PlantBottle packaging used for Odwalla is made of HDPE plastic, which is created using only ethylene, which is derived from 100 percent renewable sugarcane-based ethanol.  Odwalla is the first nationally distributed beverage brand to transition its packaging to fully recyclable, HDPE plastic made from 100 percent plant-based materials.

“The launch of PlantBottle packaging for Odwalla represents a significant step in our brand’s ongoing efforts to protect our planet,” said Alison Lewis, President, Odwalla.  “Since its inception, Odwalla has maintained a very simple vision: make great juice, do good things for the community and build a business with a heart.”

The plant-based materials for both Dasani and Odwalla PlantBottle packaging are produced through a process that turns sugarcane into a key component for PET and HDPE plastic.  Currently, PlantBottle packaging is made using sugarcane ethanol from Brazil, which Coca-Cola says is the only source widely recognized globally for its unique environmental and social performance.

“Brazilian sugarcane is primarily rain fed and industrially grown on abundant, arable land using organic fertilizers.  The plantations from which PlantBottle materials are sourced are located far away from Amazon rain forests, and their impact on biodiversity is reduced thanks to advanced farming practices and sound public policy,” said a release from the company.

Unlike other plant-based plastics, PlantBottle packaging is entirely recyclable and can be processed through existing systems. In addition, there are no differences in shelf life, weight, composition or appearance between traditional PET plastic bottles and PlantBottle plastic bottles.

In late 2009, PlantBottle packaging was launched in the western U.S. and eight other markets around the world.  To date, PlantBottle packaging is estimated to have eliminated the equivalent of 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, or three million gallons of gasoline used to produce PET plastic bottles.  Currently, The Coca-Cola Company is working to further technology so other plant materials can be used in future PlantBottle packaging. The ultimate long-term goal is to turn waste into a resource, resulting in a carbon neutral, 100 percent renewable, responsibly sourced bottle that is fully recyclable.

“Several approaches to a PET package made entirely from plants have been successfully demonstrated in laboratory testing.  We’re working to advance this breakthrough science to ensure it is commercially viable,” said Vitters.  “PlantBottle packaging means only good things for everybody. We welcome others in the industry joining us in advancing the science behind packaging made from plants.”

The rollout of PlantBottle packaging for Dasani will be supported by a national television spot breaking in April.  Additional executions will include enhanced packaging graphics, as well as out-of-home, print, digital and point-of sale-advertising to build awareness for PlantBottle packaging. Odwalla’s marketing program includes coupons, print advertising, digital programs and new labeling Point-of-sale materials for in-store displays will feature attention-grabbing messages such as “Paper or Plastic? Try Plant!”