Working Toward a Circular Economy

It’s well known that reducing, reusing and recycling materials helps conserve resources and protect the environment, but the benefits don’t end there. Our system-wide analysis of our carbon footprint shows it’s vital for helping to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Strategies to increase the sustainability of our packaging can also empower consumers to make positive choices and improve livelihoods in the communities where we operate.

Every one of the more than 3,600 different beverage offerings we produce requires some form of package in order to be safely delivered to consumers. Packaging is vital to protecting our products during delivery and use, and nearly all of our packaging material has value as recycled material. That is why we are working to find ways to avoid our packaging turning into waste and to help it remain a valuable resource for the economy. Our efforts to create more sustainable packaging are expected to contribute to our overall goal of reducing the CO2 emissions associated with the “drink in your hand” by 2020.

Our long-term vision is to leverage our significant scale and resources to contribute meaningfully to the “circular economy,” in which materials are used and reused to constantly rebuild natural and social capital. In this system, all resources—material, energy and human—are seen as valuable.

We recognize, however, that a truly sustainable circular economy requires a wide range of actions, including engaging consumers, advocating for needed policy changes, building supply chain partnerships, developing renewable technologies and more. Ultimately, it requires building a system in which many people, institutions and technologies work together to reduce, redesign, recover, recycle and reuse packaging.

Our industry has long time proponent of circular thinking, particularly when it comes to packaging. Coca-Cola introduced refillable bottles 120 years ago. As market and consumer preferences shifted, recyclable PET bottles were introduced. We also were the first to commercialize a fully recyclable PET bottle made partially from plant-based material, known as PlantBottle™, in 2009.

As we engage with businesses, governments, consumers and innovators, we are learning more about how the circular economy can and should work, and how we can support its global adoption.

The Coca-Cola Company was among the first global consumer goods companies to join the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Economy 100 (CE100), a program initiated in 2013 and aimed at bringing together a network of 100 leading companies globally to facilitate development and commitment to new circular economy projects.

In 2014, Coca-Cola, along with other leading companies, launched the Closed Loop Fund, a $100 million, five-year investment in the development of recycling infrastructure in cities across the United States. And, in 2015, Coca-Cola Enterprises introduced Infineo 2.0, the first online circular economy platform, which offers a virtual tour of its plastic recycling center in France, and the opportunity to download factsheets and learn more about recycling and waste sorting practices.

As our industry and our world further embrace innovations and new approaches, and drive toward a circular economy, we at Coca-Cola are ready to do our part.

Read more about our approach to The Circular Economy: