Find out how Coca-Cola European Partners are partnering with the University of Reading to reduce packaging waste by taking refillable bottles to the next level….

In an innovative scheme to reduce soft drink packaging, Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) are excited to announce a trial of new generation smart fountain dispensers that work with refillable, micro-chipped bottles.

Their Coca-Cola Freestyle machines were placed within the Reading University campus and halls of residence in time for the beginning of the new academic year. In the first two weeks of the trial, they’ve already provided 1,500 refillable bottles to students – that’s 1,500 people reducing their packaging footprint.

“Around 650,000 plastic bottled drinks are used on our campuses each year, so this partnership will help the University to reduce this considerably,” enthused Matt Tebbit, Catering and Bars Manager at the University of Reading.

“The scheme will provide a wider range of low and no calorie drinks options to students and staff, as well as offering free drinking water to everyone – something students had requested”  - Matt Tebbit, Catering and Bars Manager at the University of Reading

Why refillable?

Although the plastic bottles Coca-Cola produces are current 100% recyclable, we’re committed to reducing the amount of packaging in our products. So CCEP worked with the University and machine suppliers to create 21st century refillable bottles.

Students and staff can buy all their soft drinks on campus in the reusable bottles, as well as using the bottles off campus. Both CCEP and the University are monitoring the impact the scheme has on recycling and littering at Freestyle machine sites.

So how do these 21st century, refillable bottles work?

Smart technology

The customisable bottles interact with the Freestyle machines. All students need to do is purchase a bottle from the University and pre-pay for drinks – with single pourings, limited or unlimited refills.

A microchip on the bottle is scanned by the dispenser and connects to the individual’s account. The difficulty is deciding from over 100 drinks on offer!

Plus, finding the nearest Freestyle machine easy, with the Freestyle app.

What are the options?

“The scheme will provide a wider range of low and no calorie drinks options to students and staff, as well as offering free drinking water to everyone – something students had requested,” explains Matt.

They’ll also be able to try drinks within our global portfolio that aren’t available in British shops!

But students work on a tight budget, how can they afford this?

It’s good value

And as students are under a lot of financial pressure, the scheme has been designed as great value for money. The hygienic, durable bottles last for many years and can be purchased with two free fills for £9.95.

There are plenty of options for different needs: £12 for 10 refills or £39.95 for unlimited refills – for the 10-week academic term. And of course, free filtered water is available at each machine.

And the 1,500 students who have already bought bottles clearly think it’s a good deal!

A more sustainable future

Nick Brown, Head of Sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners Great Britain, explains that “we’re hugely excited to have joined forces with the University of Reading on this project. As well as supporting a more sustainable packaging system on campus, the trial will allow us to explore consumer behaviours and attitudes towards refillable bottles, with the goal to help students and staff across the university to reduce their personal packaging footprint.

“As an industry leader in drinks manufacturing and supply, we value our work with organisations that share our ambition towards a more sustainable future, and we look forward to seeing how the programme develops over the coming months.”

Find out more about other Coca-Cola system sustainability projects