Recycle Week kicks off in the UK today with the theme, ‘Together – We Recycle’. This year’s theme celebrates the nation’s commitment to recycling during these challenging times to create a positive change in the world.
Here at Coca-Cola Great Britain, we're committed to doing our part to ensure that the future is more sustainable. Our vision for a World Without Waste continues to motivate us to deliver on our own global commitment to reduce the amount of plastic in our bottles. And we’re proud to say that we’re making progress towards those goals.
Now, with all plastic bottles across our core brand portfolio in Great Britain made from 50 per cent recycled sources, we’ve taken an important step towards our ambition of only using plastic from recycled or renewable sources in our bottles. Here’s everything you need to know...
A milestone in recycling
On our sustainability journey, we’ve continued to push ourselves to invest and develop more sustainable packaging solutions.
All of our plastic bottles are 100 per cent recyclable (and have been for many years), our packaging is lighter, and last year we announced our investment in enhanced recycling and moved our first brand, smartwater, to 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles. And now all plastic bottles across our core brands – Coca-Cola Original Taste, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Dr Pepper, Oasis, Schweppes and Lilt – will be made with 50 per cent recycled plastic (rPET), a move that will also cover the rest of our amazing drinks by the end of the year.
The change also means we’re one step closer to our global goal of using 50 per cent recycled materials in all bottles and cans by 2030, as well as our long-term investment in the UK’s circular economy. In 2012, we helped establish the UK’s biggest bottle-to-bottle plastic reprocessing facility in Lincolnshire, which reprocesses bottles collected from households across the country.
This latest milestone means that we are removing over 21,000 tonnes of new (virgin) plastic per year in the UK, but our goal is to go even further. We are pushing to only use plastic from recycled or renewable sources in our bottles and eliminate virgin plastic from our packaging completely.
Exploring new ways to improve recycling
To continue to improve the sustainability of our packaging – and reach 100 per cent recycled plastic in all our bottles – we’re continuing to invest in the latest recycling technology. Our bottling partner, Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), recently took another important step on the journey towards this goal, funding CuRe Technology – a recycling start-up which seeks to provide a new lease of life for difficult to recycle plastic polyester waste. Once operational, CuRe has the potential to support CCEP and The Coca-Cola Company’s ambition to eliminate virgin oil-based PET from its PET bottles within the next decade.
As well as our own actions to make our packaging as sustainable as possible, it’s important that our consumers are willing and able to recycle their empty drinks packaging – and that they have the proper support to do so.
Small changes can make a big difference to these efforts; we’ve updated our labels to reflect recent packaging changes, such as the fact that our Diet Coke bottles are now made from 50 per cent recycled plastic, and that bottle lids also carry a ‘Please Recycle Me’ message.
Of course, labelling can only go so far. As Jon Woods, General Manager at Coca-Cola Great Britain, explains, it’s not only up to businesses or individuals to help create change:
“One of the key challenges the industry currently faces is that there isn’t enough food-grade recycled plastic locally available in the UK to switch to 100 per cent rPET across our entire range. There needs to be more high-quality recycled plastic produced, so it’s vital to make sure we collect more bottles in an efficient way, and stop it ending up as waste.
“Although all our bottles have been 100 per cent recyclable for many years, too many are still not being recycled. That’s why we support the introduction of a well-designed Deposit Return Scheme, consistent across Great Britain and coupled with investment in infrastructure. This will help encourage more people to recycle and for more bottles to be collected in a clean, efficient way so that they can be remade into new bottles again.”
Partnerships for a better shared future
We know that there’s no single quick-fix solution when it comes to increasing recovery and recycling rates, or for reducing litter. We also know that more can be achieved when we act together rather than alone. Here in the UK, we’re proud to be helping clean-up local communities and partnering with charities to tackle the issues surrounding litter and waste, and unlock the full potential of a circular economy.
We’ve been working closely with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) for 20 years, sharing a vision to minimise waste and promote resource efficiency and circularity, from jointly investing in Recycle Zone on-the-go recycling facilities in 2008, through to being one of the founding members of the UK Plastics Pact.
The journey ahead
While we’ve made some inroads towards creating more sustainable packaging options, we know that there’s still more work to be done.
We’re fully committed to finding new ways to minimise the materials we use, reducing waste, and working with others to improve recycling rates across Great Britain. We’ve set ourselves ambitious goals, but we believe that by continuing to invest in our planet and our packaging through our ‘World Without Waste’ vision, we can help tackle this global challenge.
Want to learn more about our sustainability journey in Great Britain? Here’s how we’re doing so far.