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Yesterday to Today

By:  The Coca-Cola Company Jan 1, 2012
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The role of our packaging is to deliver our products safely to consumers. It has other benefits as well: It extends our products' shelf-life, minimizes breakage and spoilage, reduces transportation and handling costs, offers product information and provides convenience to the consumer.

Over the years, we have evolved our packaging continuously, maintaining its high-quality performance while also improving its environmental impact. Here are some of the innovations that we have implemented that also help drive us toward our long-term goals for zero waste and a carbon "neutral" footprint.

1969: Our Company commissioned the first study to examine the whole environmental impact of a food and beverage package, helping to lay the framework for the life cycle assessment methodology used today. Only through knowing what our environmental footprint is and understanding the factors that influence it can we make progress in reducing our impact. As science and technology progress, we expect our package designs will continue to evolve to use fewer raw materials and reduce our carbon footprint.

1978: The Coca-Cola Company introduced the world to the innovative 2 liter PET plastic bottle. The PET plastic bottle became popular for a lot of reasons: it doesn't break; it's resealable; it's lightweight; and it's recyclable. Since its introduction, the PET plastic bottle has evolved as science and technology have progressed. We've been able to make the PET plastic bottle more environmentally sustainable by improving efficiency, increasing recycling and advancing recycled material use.

1991: We were the first company to launch a beverage bottle made with recycled content. Since then we've led the industry in our global use of recycled content PET plastic bottles. We can even turn used PET bottles into other products, such as T-shirts, fleece jackets, notebooks and tote bags. In fact, the Coca-Cola teams working at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games wore uniforms made from recycled plastic bottles.

  • Extreme winter weather wear - 103 bottles
  • Warmer temperatures wear - 55 bottles
  • Total kit, including backpack and duffle bag - 238 bottles

1999: oca-Cola opened its first bottle-to-bottle recycling plant in Australia. Since then, the Company and its bottlers have opened similar facilities in Austria, Mexico, the Philippines, and the United States. In 2009, we opened the world’s largest bottle-to-bottle recycling facility, in Spartanburg, S.C., USA, which has the capacity to create about 100 million pounds of food-grade, recycled PET plastic each year -- the equivalent of nearly 2 billion 20-fluid-ounce Coca-Cola bottles. The Spartanburg facility is expected to be fully operational in 2011.

2009: The Coca-Cola Company introduced PlantBottle packaging, the first PET plastic bottle made partially from plants that is also a completely recyclable bottle. PlantBottle packaging reduces our dependence on a nonrenewable resource -- petroleum -- and our and reduces potential carbon dioxide emissions from our PET plastic bottles.*

Learn more about PlantBottle packaging.

* Our substitution of renewable plant-based material for fossil-based petroleum resources in making PlantBottle packaging provides for a reduction of potential carbon dioxide emissions associated with end-of-life destruction of the package as compared to a conventional 100% petroleum-based bottle, because some of the carbon atoms in PlantBottle packaging come from a renewable source, sugarcane, and emission of those carbon atoms would be offset by the next sugarcane crop’s use of carbon dioxide in the plant’s photosynthesis process. Our work to understand the full range of carbon impacts associated with PlantBottle packaging as compared to traditional 100% petroleum-based PET plastic bottles continues. We are working with leading experts and thinkers on the subject. We will update our work in this area on this website so that the carbon footprint of PlantBottle packaging is known.