• Share

Driving Innovation: Coca-Cola and Ford Take PlantBottle Technology Beyond Packaging

By:  Jay Moye Nov 15, 2013
Inside the PlantBottle Ford Fusion

Interior fabric made from the same renewable material used to produce Coke’s PlantBottle packaging is featured in this demo model of the Ford Fusion Energi. View full-page gallery.

The same renewable material Coca-Cola uses to produce its PlantBottleTM packaging will be used in the fabric interior of a Ford Fusion Energi, the two companies announced today.

A demonstration model of the popular plug-in hybrid car – outfitted with the first-ever fabric covering for seat cushions, head restraints and more made with Coke’s PlantBottle Technology – will be showcased next week at the Los Angeles Auto Show. View a full-page image gallery.

Scott Vitters, general manager of the PlantBottle packaging platform at Coca-Cola, said the collaboration shows that the groundbreaking technology can be applied anywhere PET plastic is traditionally used, but with a lighter carbon footprint.

PlantBottle tag

“We hope to drive awareness that PlantBottle Technology can be used across the entire polyester universe – in everything from the inside of a car, to carpet, to clothing,” he said. “Ford is highlighting the potential for a future of renewably sourced, low-carbon polyester fibers that can be recycled again and again.”

The seeds of the partnership were planted about two years ago, when R&D teams from Coke and Ford came together to talk sustainable innovation. Both companies use PET – a durable, lightweight plastic – in a variety of products, including plastic bottles, fabrics and carpets. And both share a commitment to developing innovative products produced from renewable materials.

The conversation quickly turned to PlantBottle.

“Talking to Coke opened our eyes,” said John Viera, global director of sustainability and vehicle environmental matters, Ford Motor Company. “We were already using environmentally friendly fabrics in our vehicles, but we saw an opportunity to take our commitment to the next level through PlantBottle Technology.”

Scientists and engineers at the two companies co-developed a fiber using PlantBottle material that could be woven into durable, automotive-grade PET fabric. Ford is evaluating the potential of using the material in other applications.

The Fusion Energi – Ford’s most fuel-efficient sedan – was the natural choice for a test vehicle, given its “eco-friendly halo.” Other renewable materials are featured throughout the vehicle, from carpet liner made from sound-absorbing denim, to seat-cushion foam made with soybeans.

“People who buy a hybrid plug-in vehicle are more environmentally conscious than the average car buyer,” Viera adds. “And they’re interested in more than great fuel economy.”

Not Just Another ‘Green’ Bottle

Coca-Cola introduced PlantBottle Technology in 2009 as the first recyclable PET plastic bottle made partially from plants. Since then, more than 18 billion PlantBottle packages have reached the market in 28 countries, saving more than 400,000 barrels of oil. The company plans to convert all of its PET plastic bottles – which accounts for approximately 60 percent of its packaging globally – to PlantBottle packaging by 2020.

DASANI PlantBottle

Coke introduced PlantBottle Technology in 2009 as the first recyclable PET plastic bottle made partially from plants. Since then, more than 18 billion PlantBottle packages have reached the market in 28 countries, saving more than 400,000 barrels of oil.

From the start, Coke decided to license the technology to other non-competitive companies to expand its application and build a global supply chain for PlantBottle material. Since 2011, H.J. Heinz has shipped more than 200 million ketchup bottles in PlantBottle packaging.

PlantBottle has the potential, Vitters says, to serve as a catalyst for redirecting the polyester fiber and plastic resin industry toward a renewable future.

“This is not just another ‘green’ bottle in the marketplace, which is why we’re not keeping this sustainable innovation to ourselves,” he adds. “We believe the power of an idea is in its use and want to achieve global scale… and we know we can’t do that alone.”

Both companies – which have built legacies of delivering innovation on a global scale – hope the collaboration will demonstrate the power of partnership to embrace smarter, more sustainable design.

“Coke has always been about delivering simple moments of refreshment to people around the world, and Ford’s vision is to provide mobility to the masses,” Vitters concludes. “We both want to create real change – not just for our respective businesses, but for the planet.”

View a retrospective photo gallery highlighting the longstanding connection between Coca-Cola and Ford.