July 28, 2022

The Coca-Cola Company is taking major strides to support a circular economy for plastic packaging with two of its biggest brands in North America.

Sprite is transitioning from green to clear plastic to increase the likelihood of recycling the material into new drink bottles.

DASANI – the company’s bottled water brand – bottles will also be made with 100% recycled PET plastic rolling out this summer.

In the United States, this innovation spans from 20oz and 1.5l singles to 10oz and 12oz multipacks while in Canada, it will apply to all DASANI bottles. This excludes caps and labels.

Sprite is shifting all of plastic PET packaging from its signature green colour to clear from August 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 coloured PET is separated from clear material to avoid discouloring recycled food-grade packaging required to make new PET bottles. 

Chris Vallette, Coca-Cola’s senior vice president of technical innovation for North America, said: “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.” 

R3CYCLE is working with Coca-Cola Consolidated to ensure bottle to bottle recycling across its 14-state territory.

CEO Julian Ochoa said: “Taking colours out of bottles improves the quality of the recycled material.

“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.”

Sprite, a new identity

As well as switching 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 recognisable 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.

Coca-Cola introduces new Sprite and DANSI bottles
DASANI bottles will also be made with 100% recycled PET plastic. Credit: Coca-Cola

The shift also supports DASANI’s promise to remove the equivalent of 2 billion virgin plastic bottles from production by 2027 compared to 2021 levels.

It is also a step towards the company’s goal to use at least 50% recycled material in its bottles and cans by 2030. 

The brand’s transition to 100% recycled plastic is projected to save more than 20 million pounds of new plastic, compared to 2019. It should also cut more than 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2023 alone. 

It follows the successful launch of 100% recycled plastic bottles in New York, California and Texas which included Coca-Cola Trademark 20oz bottles.

Vallette said: “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.

“We do this by working with communities to boost PET recycling and collection, collaborating with recycling partners and securing rPET to help ensure the material for our bottles is used again and again.”

The launch also helped the Coca-Cola system identify the best-quality sources of recycled PET and fine-tune production processes needed to make 100% recycled plastic bottles. 

“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, releasing a steady stream of footprint reducing packaging over the last decade.

This includes PlantBottle, HybridBottle fusing rPET, PlantBottle material and virgin PET, aluminium cans and bottles, DASANI PureFill package-less water dispensers and industry-first bottle caps made from recycled high-density polyethylene plastic.

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