Coca-Cola to transition to 100 per rPET in Netherlands and Norway

Coca-Cola European Partners has announced that it will be transitioning to bottles made from 100 per cent recycled PET (rPET) from the end of the year in the Netherlands and Norway.

Announced today (7 September), Coca-Cola European Partners stated that in the Netherlands it will transition all locally produced small plastic bottles to 100 per cent rPET from October 2020 and large plastic bottles will follow in early 2021. Coca-Cola states this transition will remove 10,000 tonnes of new virgin plastic and reduce the carbon footprint of its plastic bottles by 21 per cent a year.

Coca-Cola to transition to 100 per rPET in Netherlands and NorwayNorway will transition to 100 per cent rPET for all locally produced plastic bottles in early 2021, reducing virgin plastic consumption by 4,300 tonnes of a year and the carbon footprint of the bottles by 28 per cent.

The transition to 100 per cent rPET in these two markets follows Coca-Cola European Partners’ announcement in December 2019 that Sweden would be the first market to move to 100 per cent rPET in its locally produced plastic bottles.

Coca-Cola European Partners is aiming to transition its entire portfolio of locally produced products in Western Europe to 100 per cent rPET by 2030, which it hopes will remove more than 200,000 tonnes of virgin plastic from its packaging portfolio every year.

As part of their joint Sustainability Action Plan, ‘This is Forward’, Coca-Cola European Partners and The Coca-Cola Company in Western Europe have pledged that by 2025, Coca-Cola will: collect a can or bottle for every one it sells and ensure that all its packaging is 100 per cent recyclable and by 2023 will ensure that at least 50 per cent of the content of its PET bottles will come from recycled content.

Coca-Cola European Partners also expressed support for deposit return schemes (DRS) in its vision for a circular business model, saying they were essential for boosting plastic bottle collection rates and reducing contamination.

Commenting on the Netherlands and Norway announcement, Joe Franses, Vice President Sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners, said: “Today’s announcement that Coca-Cola European Partners Netherlands and Coca-Cola European Partners Norway are making the switch to 100 per cent rPET marks a vitally important step forwards on our journey to eliminating new virgin oil-based plastic across all our plastic bottles within a decade. Crucially, this announcement provides a compelling case for the role that deposit return schemes (DRS) can play in the creation of local circular economies for beverage packaging. Markets with well-designed DRS such as those in Sweden, the Netherlands and Norway not only have high collection rates but also have the capacity to collect a higher grade of material with less contamination.

“Coca-Cola in Western Europe is a firm supporter of the implementation of well-designed Deposit Return Schemes across Europe, recognising the role they can play as part of local, closed-loop recycling system. We also remain committed to supporting innovative packaging and recycling technologies to help us to reach our target of 50 per cent recycled content across all our plastic bottles by 2023.”

Despite Coca-Cola European Partners’ stated commitment to using recycled plastic in its locally produced bottles, it has previously come under fire for its definition of single-use, with a Coca-Cola advertising campaign run in 2019 during the Waste and Resource Action Programme’s (WRAP) Recycle Week suggesting that Coca-Cola’s bottles were only single-use if they were not recycled.

Ocean pollution charity City to Sea submitted a complaint to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) in December 2019 saying the advertising campaign was misleading, but ASA ruled that Coca-Cola did not breach its advertising code.

This conclusion was criticised by a group of NGOs, saying the ruling undermined the widely accepted definitions of single-use, especially considering Recycle Now, which is managed by WRAP, explains that a product can be ‘single-use’ regardless of whether or not it is recycled, defining single-use as plastics that are ‘used only once before they are thrown away or recycled’.

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