Two of The Coca-Cola Company’s biggest brands in North America are taking major steps to support a circular economy for plastic packaging. DASANI is rolling out bottles made from 100% recycled PET plastic (excluding caps and labels), and Sprite is transitioning from green to clear plastic to increase the material’s likelihood of being remade into new beverage bottles.
The brand’s transition to 100% recycled plastic* is projected to save more than 20 million pounds of new plastic, compared to 2019, and cut more than 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (creating bottles from recycled plastic uses less energy than virgin PET) in 2023 alone.
The DASANI announcement follows a successful launch of 100% recycled plastic* bottles in New York, California and Texas, which also included Coca-Cola Trademark 20-oz. bottles. The launch helped the Coca-Cola system identify the best-quality sources of recycled PET (rPET) and fine-tune production processes needed to make 100% recycled plastic* bottles.
Demand for rPET currently exceeds supply, so the first step to scaling up use of 100% rPET across our portfolio is building a sustainable pipeline of high-quality material,” said Chris Vallette, Senior Vice President of Technical Innovation and Stewardship, Coca-Cola North America. “We do this by working with communities to boost PET recycling and collection; collaborating with recycling partners; and, finally, securing rPET to help ensure the material for our bottles is used again and again.
The initial launch helped drive consumer awareness through the bold, on-pack “100% Recycled Bottle*” and “Recycle Me Again” calls-to-action also used on retail signage and other communications. DASANI bottles will continue to feature this messaging. “We saw how much the 100% recycled PET message truly resonates with our customers and consumers, particularly DASANI fans whose sustainability expectations are especially high,” Vallette added.
DASANI has long been at the forefront of sustainable innovation. Over the last decade, America’s leading bottled water brand has unveiled a steady stream of footprint-reducing packaging breakthroughs, including PlantBottle; HybridBottle fusing rPET, PlantBottle material and virgin PET; aluminum cans and bottles; DASANI PureFill package-less water dispensers; and industry-first bottle caps made from recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic.
New Bottle, Same Sprite
Sprite, meanwhile, is shifting all of plastic PET packaging from its signature green color to clear, beginning Aug. 1. Although green PET is recyclable, the recycled material is more often converted into single-use items like clothing and carpeting that cannot be recycled into new PET bottles. During the sorting process, green and other colored PET is separated from clear material to avoid discoloring recycled food-grade packaging required to make new PET bottles.
“Taking colors out of bottles improves the quality of the recycled material,” said Julian Ochoa, CEO, R3CYCLE, which is working with Coca-Cola Consolidated to enable bottle-to-bottle recycling across the largest U.S. bottler’s 14 state-territory. “This transition will help increase availability of food-grade rPET. When recycled, clear PET Sprite bottles can be remade into bottles, helping drive a circular economy for plastic.”
Vallette added, “Sprite’s move to clear will help us introduce more 100% rPET bottles like DASANI is launching and keep more bottles in the circular economy.” In addition to transitioning to clear bottles, Sprite is introducing a new visual identity system featuring a revamped logo and packaging design to provide a consistent look and voice around the world. Sprite’s packaging graphics will retain the brand’s recognizable green hue and include prominent “Recycle Me” messaging. Coca-Cola North America’s entire green plastic portfolio—including packaging for Fresca, Seagram’s and Mello Yello—will transition to clear PET in the coming months.
*Excluding caps and labels