Coca-Cola trials 100% recyclable paper bottles

Coca-Cola has said it is exploring “uncharted territory” with a trial of 100% recyclable paper-based bottle packaging in Hungary.

The drinks giant said the technology behind the bottle, which combines sustainably-sourced wood and a bio-based barrier overcoat, was still in development.

Coca-Cola's R&D team worked alongside Danish paper packaging start-up Paboco to make 2,000 bottles, which will go on the market in the summer.

Stijn Franssen, R&D packaging innovation manager at Coca-Cola EMEA, said: “This is new technology, which is still in development, and we are moving in uncharted territory. We have to invent the technical solutions as we go along.” 

A first-generation prototype, announced last October, was made of an outer paper shell with an inner lining and closure made from 100% recyclable plastic.

But the main aim is for the packaging to be recycled entirely as paper, so the next step was to create a bottle without a plastic liner. 

The new bottle will initially go to market as packaging for Coca-Cola’s dairy-free smoothie brand AdeZ, but it can also be used for carbonated and still drinks, and beauty products.

Daniela Zahariea, director of technical supply chain and innovation for Coca-Cola Europe, 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 project is part of work towards the brand’s World Without Waste goals, which include achieving 100% recyclability, making bottles with 50% recycled content, and producing zero waste by 2030 through circular economy methods and packaging technology.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola North America will reduce virgin plastic by 20% and cut 10,000 tonnes of emissions annually in the US, compared to 2018, through new 100% recyclable plastic packaging across Sprite, Smart Water, Coca-Cola, and Dasani water.

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