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Coca Cola to launch sustainable plastic bottle packaging in UK soon

Coca Cola Enterprises (CCE) will soon be launching ‘PlantBottle’ packaging in Great Britain, which will contain both recycled PET (rPET) and plastic derived from a by-product of sugar production, called PlantPET.

Speaking at the launch of CCE’s Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report 2010/11, CCE recycling director Patrick McGuirk said the new packaging material would contain about 22-23% rPET and up to 30% PlantPET, the remainder being virgin PET.

“We are replacing virgin, oil-based material, with plant-based material, and that’s very exciting. We are going to bring real scale to that and we will announce the details of that over the coming weeks. Packs will begin to appear on the market around about September time and we believe this is truly innovative, a breakthrough,” McGuirk said.

“What we eventually see is a journey towards a pack that has even higher recycled content and even higher plant-based material in there as well - we very much see that as the future,” he added.

Chemically, the PlantPET is identical to rPET, and the new packaging has been run through the sort line at ECO Plastics in Lincolnshire, who CCE have partnered with to form a joint venture company that will supply CCE with rPET over the next 10 years. This means the new packs can be sorted in plastics recycling facilities, and the new packs reprocessed as rPET, in order to close the recycling loop. This new packaging format will help CCE reduce the carbon footprint of its packaging. In addition, it is working on a campaign to highlight the sustainability of the new packaging, to encourage consumers to recycle their bottles. PlantBottles have already been introduced in other countries.

McGuirk also confirmed the building work on its joint venture plastics recycling plant with ECO Plastics, in which CCE invested £5 million equity, started about six weeks ago, and this will also house an education facility on site. The plant is due to open for business in 2011 and help CCE achieve its target of using 25% rPET in its plastic bottles by 2012.

He added: “We will look at other investments. PET was probably the part of the recycling infrastructure that was struggling most in the UK but there are other areas that we will look at, and if it can be meaningful, we will invest. And that is very much the challenge that we have put out to the waste management industry and to the recycling industry: to say we are ready to partner, if there is a part of the chain that is not working today that relates to Coca Cola then we will come forward, we will bring our expertise and where it makes sense we will also invest against that.”

As well as the its new packaging, CCE announced it was investing £1.75 million on the purchase of another 13 biomethane vehicles, following the success of its trial running a heavy duty truck on biomethane sourced from landfill gas, provided by Gasrec. The trial demonstrated a 50% carbon emission reduction compared to a traditional standard diesel vehicle. The company will also put in place the right re-fuelling infrastructure in Enfield, so that its fleet of 14 vehicles can be operational in London next year.

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