Sustainable Packaging: Coca-Cola’s 89-oz Simply Beverages Bottle
The Coca-Cola Co. won this year’s Sustainable Packaging Award for its 89-oz Simply brand package, which is an extrusion blow-molded bottle with integrated handle. The new package uses significantly less plastic than the bottle it replaces and is also easier for recyclers to process.
These environmental benefits were achieved by switching the bottle material from extrudable polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG), which is resin identification code #7 (“other” plastics), to an extrusion blow-molding polyethylene terephthalate (EBM PET) that complies with code #1 (PETE).
According to Jordan Mattison, senior engineer at Coca-Cola, “This is the first commercial application” of the new grade of EBM PET. “This innovation allowed the Simply brand to convert its 89-oz package from a resin code #7 extrudable PETG material to a code #1 material that is compatible with the PET recycling stream.”
Converting to code #1-compliant EBM PET for the package removes more than 14 million pounds of code #7 PETG from commercial use, and replaces it with code #1. “Additionally, process and design optimization enabled container light-weighting, reducing plastic use by 1.4 million pounds annually,” Mattison adds. The new bottle uses 9% less plastic than the old one.
In the past, consumers often mistook the PETG package for PET, with the bottles subsequently ending up in the code #1 recycling stream. And that challenged recyclers, because the presence of PETG in a code #1 processing operation hinders throughput and efficiency.
The new package solved that problem. In addition, Coca-Cola had previously converted to an easily removable pressure-sensitive label for Simply bottles. Recyclers just wash the label off during processing.
Regarding the resin change-up, Mattison says that “successful execution was only made possible through close collaboration and a shared commitment to sustainability with our resin supplier Indorama Ventures, our converter CKS Packaging and our equipment OEM Bekum.”
Coca-Cola’s Simply Orange package also won the 2018 SPC Innovators Award in the Packaging Innovation category.