One of the world’s biggest plastic polluters, The Coca-Cola Company, will test a paper bottle prototype this summer, through a limited online trial in Hungary.
In a statement announcing the move, Coca-Cola said a run of 2,000 bottles of the plant-based beverage AdeZ will be offered in the paper packaging via e-grocery retailer Kifli.hu.
The paper bottle project is being co-developed by Coca‑Cola’s R&D team in Brussels and The Paper Bottle Company (Paboco), a Danish startup supported by ALPLA and BillerudKorsnäs, in cooperation with Carlsberg, L’Oréal and The Absolut Company.
The trial is moving into the consumer testing phase to measure the package’s performance and shopper response to the format. Coca-Cola and Paboco unveiled the first-generation prototype, which consists of a paper shell with a recyclable plastic lining and cap, last year.
It comes after Coca-Cola was ranked the worst plastic polluter of 2020 by Break Free From Plastic, alongside PepsiCo and Nestle.
“The trial we are announcing today is a milestone for us in our quest to develop a paper bottle,” Coca-Cola Europe’s director of technical supply chain and innovation, Daniela Zahariea, said.
“People expect Coca‑Cola to develop and bring to market new, innovative and sustainable types of packaging. That’s why we are partnering with experts like Paboco, experimenting openly and conducting this first in-market trial.”
The technology, developed by Paboco, is designed to create 100 per cent recyclable bottles made of sustainably sourced wood with a bio-based material barrier that is capable of resisting liquids, CO2, and oxygen.
The product also aims to be suitable for beverages, beauty products and other liquid goods. The ultimate goal is a bottle that can be recycled as paper, Coca-Cola said.
The innovation supports The Coca-Cola Company’s ‘World Without Waste’ sustainable packaging goal to collect and recycle a bottle or can for everyone it sells by 2030, while “substantially reducing” use of virgin packaging materials and using only 100 per cent recyclable packaging materials.
Stijn Franssen, R&D packaging innovation manager for Coca‑Cola Europe, stressed that the breakthrough technology is still in development. Franssen’s team has been conducting lab testing to assess how the paper bottle performs, holds up and protects its contents.
“This is new technology, and we are moving in uncharted territory,” he explained. “We have to invent the technical solutions as we go along.”
The news comes as Coca-Cola North America debuts bottles made from 100 per cent recycled PET (rPET) plastic this month in California, Florida and select states in the Northeast.
The bottles will be used across Coca-Cola’s trademark brands (Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero Sugar, Coca-Cola Flavors), with other sparkling beverage brands following this summer.
Coca-Cola said more than 94 per cent of its North American packaging is currently recyclable. Additionally, the company said it now offers 100 per cent rPET bottles in more than 25 markets.
Featured image source: coca-colacompany.com
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