In their ongoing efforts to achieve a more environmentally friendly image, the Coca-Cola Co. announced earlier this month that they will be launching new biobased plastic bottles for their Dasani water line later this year and vitaminwater next year. They’re calling their new packaging the “PlantBottleTM.”
Plastic soda bottles are generally made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a compound made by reacting ethylene glycol, traditionally made from petroleum and natural gas, with terephthalic acid. Up to 30% of the ethylene glycol in the new bottles will be made from plants such as sugar and molasses instead.
Coca-Cola’s aim is to eventually create packaging that is 100% recyclable and renewable but that is also still the same material at the end of the day. After all, infrastructure already exists to handle PET, a highly recyclable compound, including Coca-Cola’s own recently opened plant in Spartanburg, SC, that can turn 100 million pounds of plastic a day back into soda bottles.
Production of the current “PlantBottleTM” reduces carbon emissions by 25% as compared to petroleum-based PET according to an Imperial College London life-cycle analysis. In keeping with their 100% recyclability goal, Coca-Cola researchers are also looking for a source of biobased terephthalic acid to replace the other main ingredient in the manufacturing process.
It is merely a small step, perhaps, but it is a step in the right direction. Next, given that we consume about one billion drinks in PET bottles every week and only recycle between 18% and 23%, we really need to figure out how to keep these renewable materials out of the landfills.
Photo Credit: santanartist at flickr