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Coca-Cola Announces Lighter PET Bottles That Reduces Plastic Use

by Rudy Sanchez on 04/02/2024 | 2 Minute Read

The Coca-Cola Company has announced that it has redesigned its bottles to be lighter and reduce the overall amount of plastic used in its production.

According to Coca-Cola, the change to the 12, 16.9, and 20-ounce bottles represents the first significant change to the PET bottle design in a decade. Initially, Coca-Cola, Sprite, Minute Maid, and Minute Maid Aguas Frescas will transition to the new, lighter bottles.

“We’ve been continuously working to ‘right-weight’ our bottles, incrementally going from 27 to 21 grams over the last ten years,” Alejandro Santamaria, senior director for global packaging development and innovation, said in a press release. “But we’d reached the ‘floor’ with our previous designs. Our breakthrough innovations in modeling technology, which reduce the weight of our bottles to 18.5 grams, represent a major step in reducing the amount of materials used while preserving the durability and functionality of our packaging and, most importantly, the quality and taste standards of our beverages.”

According to the same press release, the reduction in PET material used is equivalent to 800 million bottles, and the associated carbon emission savings amounts to taking 17,000 trucks off the road for a year.

Some critics will point out that Coca-Cola continues to use plastic, and, to be sure, they’re not wrong. Obviously, the best change would be to use a material with higher recycling rates, refillable systems, or some other change that eliminates or significantly reduces the amount of waste produced.

To be sure, Coca-Cola could do more to make its products planet-friendly. Sustainability targets, especially concerning plastic, are weak, focusing on increased use of recycled PET. But still, even when Coca-Cola makes small changes, like changing Sprite’s plastic bottles to clear from green to make them a more desirable material, the scale amounts to large reductions in plastic use; not enough to address single-use waste by itself, but it’s better than nothing.

Perhaps the most promising takeaway from Coca-Cola’s announcement is that it’s redesigning packaging to reduce plastic use. A tweak here and there adds up, and it’s great to see that semi-sustainable thinking is happening at large firms like the Atlanta-based beverage behemoth. 

But can beverage giants like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo do better? Yes, and it's going to take a lot more than shaving off a few grams of plastic.