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Sprite Trials Naked Label-less Bottle In UK

by Bill McCool on 01/30/2024 | 3 Minute Read

In a bid to simplify the recycling process, Coca-Cola announced that they would trial a “naked” labelless bottle for Sprite in the UK. The new bottles feature the Sprite logo embossed on the front with laser-engraved product information on the back. Additionally, the bottles are made using 100% rPET minus the attached cap.

While bottle labels are recyclable, the company says removing them will eliminate the need to separate labels during recycling. The plastic savings are modest, and Coca-Cola says that the plastic reduction, by weight, is somewhere in the neighborhood of 2%, while the label removal saves 2.8kg of CO2e for every 1,000 bottles they manufacture. 

Additionally, the pilot will only extend to 500ml containers for Sprite and Sprite Zero, with both products clearly identified on the bottles. Of course, consumers can also spot them via bottlecap—green for plain-Jane Sprite and a transparent cap for Zero.

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The naked bottles will only be sold in eight Tesco Express stores until March of this year and marks another market test in Coca-Cola’s World Without Waste strategy, where the company has pledged to reduce their packaging footprint and recycle a bottle or can for every one they sell by 2030.

Admittedly, it’s a pretty nifty-looking bottle and cuts a fine figure from any beverage cooler. The problem, of course, isn’t with the label or the lack thereof. The problem is the bottle itself. After all, this is a single-use plastic bottle we’re talking about here.

In the announcement, Coca-Cola admits that the “world has a packaging waste problem,” and they “have a responsibility to help solve it.” But let’s not shit ourselves here— simply removing the label isn’t going to cut it and feel, well, silly.

And very greenwashy.

In the spirit of fairness, we should get a couple of positives out of the way first. Coca-Cola deserves a little credit for a few things—namely, switching to the much easier-to-recycle clear bottles instead of the previous green, as it increases the likelihood that the bottle will get turned into something else. Attached caps in Scotland and the UK are another great way to ensure that no piece of plastic is left behind and gets recycled. Lightweighting or stripping a label away from the bottle is another great way to minimize packaging materials, however marginal the savings.

But this is the barest of minimums. Getting more people to recycle is a good thing. But the UK is a hell of a lot better than the rest of the world, and the country recycles around 44% of its plastic waste. In the US? That number sits around 5%, and unless a federal EPR bill gets enacted in this country, it’s not getting any better.

If Coca-Cola wants to show they’re serious about a world without waste, they could announce that they’re eliminating 25% of all plastic packaging and replacing it with aluminum. That’s a true-blue reduction in single-use plastic. Aluminum has a much higher capture rate, can be recycled infinitely, and contributes to a realistic circular economy. Plastic cannot. That isn't up for debate, no matter how many plastic lobbyists tell you otherwise.

Anywho. Cool looking bottle, Sprite. Now, bottle it up in a can instead.

Images courtesy of Coca-Cola.