Since the 2009 introduction of PlantBottle™ packaging—the first-ever fully recyclable PET plastic bottle made partially from plants—Coca-Cola has distributed more than 40 billion PlantBottle packages in over 40 countries. The use of this innovative, more sustainable packaging has saved the equivalent annual emissions of more than 365,000 metric tons of potential carbon dioxide emissions. For perspective, this is equivalent to the annual emissions produced by 41 million gallons of gas, more than 77,000 cars or by burning 845,000 barrels of oil.
PlantBottle packaging now accounts for 29 percent of the Company’s packaging volume in North America and 8 percent globally, making
“The PlantBottle packaging breakthrough technology has helped catalyze a movement to redirect the entire polyester fiber and plastic resin industry toward a renewable future,” said Michael Knutzen, Global Program Director, PlantBottle. “We continue to advance our distribution of this transformational innovation and to contribute to the global dialogue and advancement of the responsible development of plant-based plastics.”
PlantBottle packaging has resonated with consumers, helped boost sales of brands like Dasani, generated headlines and won sustainable and innovation awards, and captured the collective attention of the supplier, scientific/academic and investor communities. In 2014, PlantBottle packaging was recognized by the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry for helping fuel the bio-based manufacturing boom.
Part of this buzz is because PlantBottle Technology™ is being used to produce more than plastic bottles. From day one,
In 2013, Ford Motor Company announced plans to use PlantBottle packaging in the fabric interior in certain test models of the Fusion Energi hybrid sedan. And in 2014, the first reusable, fully recyclable plastic cup made with PlantBottle Technology rolled out in SeaWorld® and Busch Gardens® theme parks and since then expanded to other theme parks and national zoos.
“Understanding the power of PlantBottle Technology and recognizing its potential, we realized its benefits had to be shared beyond our Company,” said Knutzen. “It’s an exciting opportunity to take an innovation that will positively impact the planet and grow its usage through collaboration.”
In July 2015,
Here are three lessons
1. PlantBottle Packaging Can Be Used as an Effective Marketing Tool.
While the environmental and long-term cost benefits of PlantBottle Technology have been clear since day one, after time the team realized its potential to build emotional connections with consumers. Today’s consumers expect quality beverages to be delivered in the most efficient way possible with a key focus on sustainability, minimizing resources and increasing the use of recycled and renewable materials.
PlantBottle packaging answers that expectation and has proven to be a top differentiator for many of the company’s brands, particularly its water portfolio, led by Dasani in the United States. PlantBottle packaging has been distributed in a variety of packaging sizes across water, sparkling, juice and tea beverage brands—from
“Consumers aren’t the only ones interested in this sustainability innovation,” said Knutzen. “Our customers who sell our beverages also seek products that provide a competitive advantage through differentiation. It’s an offering they want on their shelves.”
2. Achieving Cost Parity (or Better) is an End Goal, Not Immediately Attainable.
Today, PlantBottle packaging comes at a premium, which is not passed onto the consumer.
“We’re seeing a lot of variance in pricing because the price of petroleum is so volatile,” said Knutzen. “Over the long term, we believe the cost of plant-based material will be more stable than the cost of petroleum. That’s why we’re building our supply chain to efficiently use materials made from plants in our packaging. We’re absorbing the additional costs as an investment in a more sustainable future. The end goal is to enable technology and paths that allow us to reach cost parity or better.”
3. Collaboration with External Partners is Critical... and Continues to Grow.
Working together with environmental organizations, researchers, and other companies,
With longtime conservation partner World Wildlife Fund,
Coca-Cola continues to engage technological partners Ford, Nike and P&G through the PET Plant Technology Collaborative (PTC) to establish and develop new promising paths for making renewable materials. This strategic working group is focused on accelerating the development and use of 100 percent plant-based PET plastic.
“As we work to advance PlantBottle, we recognize there will be many more lessons learned and we look forward to sharing those as well,” said Knutzen. “Sustainability is a journey and we’re prepared to adapt and adjust as dictated by consumers, innovation, and our overall world. We must always be seeking to improve and excel, for business and for our planet.”
More on Journey
- Simply Sustainable: Juice Brand's 89-Oz. Recyclable Bottle Wins Design Award
- Ground Zero for What’s New and What’s Next: Why Coke’s Venturing & Emerging Brands Team Keeps Coming Back to Natural Products ExpoWest
- Coca-Cola and the Sustainable Development Goals: A Story of Making Global Change Happen Comes Full Circle
- ‘We Don’t Have the Luxury of Time’: Coke’s Brian Smith on the Growth Mindset Needed to Win in EMEA
- Specialty Sodas With a Local Twist: Coke Leans Into Handcrafted Heritage With New Flavors