• The move has been announced as part of the Company’s new sustainable packaging strategy for Great Britain which will see it aim to recover all of its packaging so more is recycled for reuse and none ends up as litter
  • Coca-Cola Great Britain will launch its biggest ever consumer communications campaign on recycling and will also trial an on-the-go bottle recovery scheme

12 July 2017: The Coca-Cola system today announced it will double the amount of recycled plastic in all of its bottles in Great Britain, meaning that all 20 of the company’s brands, including the Coca-Cola range, Sprite, Fanta, Smartwater and Schweppes, will move from 25 per cent to 50 per cent recycled plastic packaging by 2020. Coca-Cola Great Britain is currently the largest user of recycled plastic in the UK food and drink industry and the new commitment will see it extend that even further.

The increase to 50 per cent will be made possible by a new deal with Clean Tech, which operates Europe’s largest and most advanced plastic bottle reprocessing facility in Lincolnshire. The multi-million pound commitment to purchase recycled plastic from Clean Tech will see the Coca-Cola system build on its five-year relationship with the company and source all of the recycled plastic it uses from within Great Britain. It also means that once bottles have been recovered and recycled they will return to shop shelves as part of new packs in as little as six weeks.

In order to use more than 50 per cent recycled plastic, further changes are needed to the recycling system in Great Britain - more plastic bottles need to be recovered and recycled to increase the availability of high quality recycled plastic fit for food use. Therefore, as part of the Company’s new sustainable packaging strategy for its business in Great Britain, Coca-Cola is also calling for reform of the current collection and recycling system in GB.

At present, only 70 per cent1 of the cans and 57 per cent2 of the plastic bottles used each year are recycled. While these numbers are better than in some countries, Coca-Cola believe changes should be made to increase recycling rates. In its new sustainable packaging strategy for Great Britain, the Company sets out the key actions it will take and the areas in which it will seek to partner with others to improve the recovery and recycling of drinks packaging to help stimulate the circular economy and reduce litter.

The new strategy is focused on three key areas:

1. Continuing to innovate to ensure its packaging is as sustainable as possible
In addition to ensuring that all of its packaging is 100 per cent recyclable, the Coca-Cola system will double the amount of recycled plastic in every one of our bottles over the next three years – from the current 25 per cent to 50 per cent by 2020.

2. Investing in marketing and advertising to promote recycling and encourage behaviour change
As part of the new strategy, Coca-Cola is launching a new multi-million pound communications campaign designed to inspire more people to recycle. At the heart of the campaign is an advert called Love Story, which will break on TV on at the end of July and run across TV, cinema and digital channels. The advert features two love struck plastic bottles who are parted and then reunited as they are disposed of properly, recovered and then recycled into new bottles. The campaign will reach 35 million Britons by the end of this year. We will also be putting a new recycling message on bottles later this year and promote recycling to six million people at festivals and events.

3. Championing reform of the recycling system in Great Britain to ensure more packaging is recovered and recycled
We will continue to work in partnership with others – including the Governments of Great Britain – to improve the current packaging recovery system. It will give its support to well-designed new interventions that increase recovery and recycling rates, including deposit return schemes.

In addition, as part of its commitment to support DEFRA - the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’
working group on voluntary and economic incentives, we will seek to advance our own knowledge of how consumers are motivated by an incentive-based scheme by testing an on-the-go bottle recovery and reward programme. This test will examine the behavioural impact of reward schemes and help inform any future national approaches to reducing litter and increasing collection and recycling rates. More details on these trials will be announced later this year.

Find out more about the case for reform of the Producer Responsibility system and the role of Deposit Return Systems.

Marcus Gover, Chief Executive of WRAP, said: “To have a brand as well-known and with the reach of Coca-Cola actively encouraging more people to recycle is a really positive step which we welcome. A commitment that half of all the plastic bottles they use will be recycled plastic, understanding that this will cost the business more, shows real leadership in the industry and provides the essential market for recovered materials. Initiatives like this are much needed if we are to change consumer behaviour and recover and recycle more – WRAP and Recycle Now are excited to be working with them on this. We need more big brands to help inspire people to do their part.”

Jon Woods, General Manager of Coca-Cola Great Britain said: “Our packaging is valuable to us and we don’t want to see any of it end up where it shouldn’t. All of our bottles and cans have been 100 per cent recyclable for some time now, so in theory none should be littered. But we know that isn’t happening and that’s why we are going to do more.

We want to see all of our packaging recovered and recycled and our new strategy sets out how we will start work to achieve that. Doubling the amount of recycled material in all of our plastic bottles is a significant investment and sends a clear signal that we want to play a positive role in supporting the circular economy here in Great Britain. We hope that others in the food and drink industry will follow our lead and look to use recycled plastic in their packaging. In the strategy we have focused on the actions we can take as a business – such as our ability to communicate to consumers the importance of recycling – as well as the areas where we want to work in close collaboration with others to reduce litter and increase the recovery and recycling of plastic bottles. Our ambition – and our ability to go further in the future – requires reform of the packaging recovery system and we will work with others to bring about the changes that are required to ensure all our packaging is recovered and recycled.”

Keep Britain Tidy’s Chief Executive, Allison Ogden-Newton, added: “The Coca-Cola system's commitment is welcome news for those of us who are working to reduce litter and waste and increase recycling. Every day, around 16 million plastic bottles are littered or end up in landfill and to have a global brand like Coca-Cola leading the way in developing the new solutions and changes in behaviour required is a real step forward. We particularly welcome their ambition to recover and recycle all of their packaging and hope that this inspires others to step up and help bring about the changes required.”

Coca-Cola will report on progress against the strategy every year and it will be working closely with external organisations and experts to review activity, impact, and refine its new strategy accordingly.

To find out more, please visit www.coca-cola.co.uk/sustainablepackaging

1 70 per cent of cans recycled - Alupro.org.uk
2 57 per cent of plastic bottles recycled - Recoup UK Household Plastics Collection Survey 2016

The Coca-Cola system's journey so far:

  • All our bottles and cans are 100% recyclable.
  • The plastic bottles we use for all our brands – such as the Coca-Cola 500ml – contain 25% recycled PET. And we want to double that to 50% recycled plastic by 2020.
  • Today, we use 10,000 tonnes of recycled plastic in our bottles every year in Great Britain sourced from Clean Tech in Lincolnshire.
  • Our partnership with this facility started in 2012 when we invested to help the plant become the first in the UK to meet the quality standards to recycle plastic so it can be used in new bottles. In those five years we have recycled the equivalent of 2 billion bottles, using them in our packaging.
  • Our glass bottles and cans also contain high levels of recycled materials – 56% and 49% respectively.
  • PlantBottle – a plastic made partly from plant material, rather than fossil fuels – accounts for up to 30% of the plastic used in our Smartwater and Honest Tea packs. It performs the same as traditional PET plastic and is fully recyclable.
  • We were one of the original signatories to WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment.
  • We continue to make our packs as light as possible – our 500ml Coca-Cola bottles now weigh just 19g, almost 50% less than in 1994. And our new Abbey Well ‘twist’ pack has been designed to use 32% less material and the shape makes it easier to recycle.
  • The caps on all our plastic bottles are recyclable and now weigh just 2g – some 20% less than they did in 2014.
  • Our sustainable packaging strategy is an important part of our ongoing efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of our business. Packaging accounts for 40% of carbon emissions across our value chain. Using recycled materials is a key way to reduce this impact. For instance: it takes 60% less energy to produce recycled PET compared with virgin plastic.
  • We have been using the power of our brands to influence our consumers on responsible disposal of our packaging for many years. We have carried out research into the barriers to recycling and used to run campaigns with consumers at festivals, sampling activities, shops and with Local Authorities.

We joined the On-Pack Recycling Label scheme in 2012 and will continue to support this voluntary scheme of consistent communication on packaging recyclability. The OPRL is a cross-sector initiative used by more than 550 brands and achieving more than 70% recognition with consumers (WRAP Research, September 2016). Two thirds of consumers say they regularly or fairly frequently refer to OPRL when deciding how to recycle packaging (RECOUP Research, August 2016).