As part of our new 2020 environmental goals announced on July 9th, this is the 4th and final piece of our series on Coca-Cola Unbottled where our experts are sharing even more details on the goals.

Ask anyone in the world to draw a bottle of Coca-Cola and the image is usually the same – a tall, slim glass or plastic bottle with a distinctly unique contour shape. It’s a shape that’s recognizable by touch even in the dark and one that often sparks personal memories of special occasions of sharing happiness. Since the invention of the first contour bottle in 1915, Coca-Cola has been on a mission to have both distinctive and innovative packaging –while also thinking about what happens to each package when the person enjoying the drink finishes that last sip. 

Packaging plays an essential role in meeting consumer needs and preventing waste by protecting our products during delivery, so naturally, it’s an important part of our 2020 sustainability goals. We have a long history in the environmental sustainability space. As the first company to do an environmental assessment of  packaging in the late 1960s to launching the first plastic beverage bottle made with recyclable materials, we have continually explored new ways to package our products while reducing waste, materials and energy. Just as important is our need to focus on reutilizing resources, which is why we design our packaging for recycling and reuse. 

We’ve set a 2020 Company goal in packaging to: reach a 75% recovery rate of bottles and cans in developed markets. By having this goal in place, it will allow us to more accurately track and report progress on the total number of bottles and cans captured for recycling and reuse. However, we can’t do it alone. We will continue to work with local communities, industry and nonprofits to increase recycling in markets around the world.

What about developing and emerging markets? We’re working to set a global target, but today, much of the basic information about waste management in developing and emerging markets does not exist.  It is an area where we are working in partnership with others to gather this information while also working to improve community recycling programs and support the adoption of improved waste management practices.

Our priority is to deliver the quality beverages our consumers expect in the most efficient way possible with a focus on recyclability, minimizing resources, increasing the use of recycled and renewable materials and engaging consumers on the journey. While we have made great strides, we aren’t there yet, and we look forward to continuing to work steadily to reach our 2020 goal.

We invite you to learn more about our packaging initiatives in our most recent Sustainability Report.

April Crow

April Crow is Director of Sustainable Packaging at The Coca-Cola Company.