Coca-Cola India recently launched new bottles made from 100% recycled PET plastic material (rPET). This is the first time in India that any bottle made with 100% rPET is being used for food or beverage.
The new rPET packaging is available for the company’s packaged drinking water brand, Kinley, in 1-liter bottles. The new bottle features a unique label displaying, ‘100% made from recycled food grade plastic, marking a major milestone for Coca-Cola in India in realizing its circular economy endeavor.
A company press release stated that as part of its global commitment of creating a ‘World Without Waste’, it has set a goal of using at least 50% recycled content in its packaging by 2030. Currently, it said, 90% of the company’s packaging is recyclable while 15% of PET used is recycled (rPET) across the globe.
Excerpts from an email chat between Enrique Ackermann, Vice President, Technical and Innovation, Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia and SustainabilityNext:
By employing 100% recycled PET material, Coca-Cola India is actively promoting the principles of a circular economy. This approach entails collecting plastic waste, recycling it, and converting it into new packaging, thereby reducing reliance on virgin plastic and mitigating the environmental consequences of its production. This shift towards a closed-loop system marks a crucial step in minimizing the ecological impact associated with plastic packaging.
How does this work on the ground?
Coca-Cola strives to promote a circular economy for plastics by fostering collaboration among all stakeholders in the plastic recycling value chain, employing a strategic framework known as Design, Collect, and Partner. One notable example of this commitment is the ‘Return and Recycle’ initiative in India, a collaborative effort between Coca-Cola and Zepto. This joint endeavor combines the sustainability goals of both companies within the concept of a circular economy. Zepto’s e-commerce platform plays a crucial role in this initiative by facilitating the organized and digitized collection of empty PET bottles from consumers for recycling purposes.
Additionally, Coca-Cola India and its bottling partners actively collaborate with various waste management agencies to establish robust collection infrastructure and enhance the efficiency of the waste collection value chain across the country.
What are your future plans?
With a steadfast commitment to sustainability, we have set ambitious goals for our packaging to drive positive change. By 2025, our aim is to ensure that 100% of our packaging is recyclable worldwide. Furthermore, by 2030, we strive to incorporate a minimum of 50% recycled material into our packaging. We are actively working towards achieving these goals, which are deeply ingrained in our business operations. Globally, the Coca-Cola Company offers 100% rPET bottles in more than 40 markets.
Is the pricing of the rPET bottles similar with the existing ones?
The pricing for consumers for the recently launched rPET bottles is similar with PET bottles.
Who are your collaborators in the journey?
rPET bottles are crafted from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) that meets stringent food-grade standards. The recycling process for PET bottles follows approved technologies endorsed by the US FDA and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). This process involves transforming the recycled PET resin into new PET bottles. The introduction of rPET bottles in India occurred only after obtaining approval from the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for the use of recycled PET in food packaging. The FSSAI reviewed the guidelines and conducted a comprehensive assessment of food safety before granting approval.
Coca-Cola India sources the material for its rPET packaging through a collaboration with partners who have state-of-the-art manufacturing units. Srichakra Polyplast Pvt. Ltd. provides food-grade rPET resin, while ALPLA India converts it into preforms, which serve as raw material for manufacturing rPET bottles. Srichakra Polyplast has developed a robust collection system for used PET bottles, ensuring a sufficient supply of rPET. This partnership ensures a reliable supply of recycled PET material, enabling Coca-Cola India to create sustainable packaging solutions in the country.