Coca-Cola is unveiling a sample bottle made using recovered and recycled marine plastics. About 300 sample bottles have been produced using 25 percent recycled marine plastic retrieved from the Mediterranean Sea and beaches.
The marine plastic bottle has been developed to show the transformational potential of revolutionary “enhanced recycling” technologies, according to the company. Enhanced recycling technologies use processes that break down the components of plastic and strip out impurities in lower-grade recyclables so they can be rebuilt as good as new. This means that lower-grade plastics that were often destined for incineration or landfill can now be given a new life. It also means more materials are available to make recycled content, reducing the amount of virgin polyethylene terephthalate (PET) needed from fossil fuels, resulting in a lower carbon footprint.
The sample bottle is the result of a partnership among Ioniqa Technologies, Indorama Ventures, Mares Circulares (Circular Seas) and The Coca-Cola Company.
In the immediate term, enhanced recycling will be introduced at commercial scale using waste streams from existing recyclers, including previously unrecyclable plastics and lower-quality recyclables. From 2020, Coca-Cola said it plans to roll out this enhanced recycled content in some of its bottles.
“Enhanced recycling technologies are enormously exciting, not just for us but for industry and society at large,” said Bruno van Gompel, technical and supply chain director for Coca-Cola Western Europe, in a statement. “They accelerate the prospect of a closed loop economy for plastic, which is why we are investing behind them. As these begin to scale, we will see all kinds of used plastics returned, as good as new, not just once but again and again, diverting waste streams from incineration and landfill.”
“The impact of enhanced recycling will be felt on a global scale; by working with Coca-Cola and Indorama to produce this bottle, we aim to show what this technology can deliver,” said Tonnis Hooghoudt, CEO of Ioniqa Technologies, the Dutch company that developed the proprietary enhanced recycling technology, in a statement. “Our new plant is now operational, and we are bringing this technology to scale. In doing so, we aim to eliminate the concept of single-use plastic and plastic waste altogether.”
Coca-Cola’s sample bottle has been designed and developed by bringing together several key partnerships, including:
- Coastal cleanups: The marine plastic contained in the bottles was collected and recovered by volunteers who participated in 84 beach cleanups in Spain and Portugal and fishermen in 12 ports across the Mediterranean Sea, as part of the Mares Circulares or “Circular Seas” project. Mares Circulares, partially funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation, is a collaboration among the Coca-Cola system in Iberia, Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food & the Environment and three nonprofit organizations—Chelonia Association, Ecomar Foundation and Vertidos Cero Association.
- Technological innovation: In January 2019, Coca-Cola extended a loan to Ioniqa Technologies in the Netherlands to help scale its proprietary enhanced recycling technology. The marine litter collected through Mares Circulares was recycled by Ioniqa Technologies, using enhanced recycling processes, back into the building blocks needed to make food-grade PET.
- Industry collaboration: Indorama Ventures, one of Coca-Cola’s suppliers of PET plastic and packaging solutions, subsequently converted this material into the PET plastic required to make the first sample Coca-Cola bottle made with marine plastic.