The Coca-Cola Company unveiled its first-ever sample bottles made using recovered and recycled marine plastics, demonstrating that, one day, even ocean debris could be used in recycled packaging for food or drinks.
Through a partnership between Ioniqa Technologies, Indorama Ventures, Mares Circulares (Circular Seas) and The Coca-Cola Company, about 300 sample bottles were made using 25% recycled marine plastic retrieved from the Mediterranean Sea and beaches.
The bottles were designed and developed to show the transformational potential of revolutionary enhanced recycling technologies, which can recycle previously used plastics of any quality back to high-quality plastic that can be used for food or beverage packaging. The sample bottle is the first-ever plastic bottle made using marine plastic that has been successfully recycled for food and drink packaging.
Enhanced recycling technologies use innovative processes that break down the components of plastic and strip out impurities in lower-grade recyclables so they can be rebuilt as good as new. This means that lower grade plastics often destined for incineration or landfill can now be given a new life. It also means more materials are available to make recycled content, reducing the amount of virgin PET needed from fossil fuels, and resulting in a lower carbon footprint.
The marine plastic bottle has been developed as proof of concept for what the technology may achieve in time. In the immediate term, enhanced recycling will be introduced at commercial scale using waste from existing recyclers, including previously unrecyclable plastics and lower-quality recyclables. From 2020, Coca-Cola plans to roll out this enhanced recycled content in some of its bottles.
Key partnerships in the development of the sample bottles containing recovered and recycled marine plastic:
- Coastal cleanups: The marine plastic contained in the bottles was collected and recovered by volunteers who participated in 84 beach cleanups in Spain and Portugal and fishermen in 12 ports across the Mediterranean Sea, as part of the Mares Circulares or “Circular Seas” project. Mares Circulares, partially funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation, is a collaboration between the Coca-Cola system in Iberia, Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food & the Environment and three leading non-profit organizations — Chelonia Association, Ecomar Foundation and Vertidos Cero Association.
- Technological innovation: In January 2019, Coca-Cola extended a loan to Ioniqa Technologies in the Netherlands to help scale its proprietary enhanced recycling technology. The marine litter collected through Mares Circulares was recycled by Ioniqa Technologies, using enhanced recycling processes, back into the building blocks needed to make food-grade PET.
- Industry collaboration: Indorama Ventures, one of Coca-Cola’s suppliers of PET plastic and packaging solutions, subsequently converted this material into the PET plastic required to make the first Coca-Cola bottle – and the world’s first drinking bottle – made with marine plastics.
Coca-Cola has set out clear goals to work toward a World Without Waste, including that it will collect a bottle or can for every one it sells by 2030. To find out more about The Coca-Cola Company’s wider goals and actions on packaging waste, visit: https://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/world-without-waste.