Coca-Cola, which has been named the world’s worst plastic polluting company by researchers, is conducting a small trial of new paper-based bottles which could significantly reduce the amount of waste the firm produces if widely adopted.
The soft drinks giant has a long-term goal of eliminating plastic waste from its products entirely.
The new prototype bottle, being trialled in Hungary for a Coca-Cola company product called “AdeZ”, has a strong paper exterior shell, a plastic cap and a thin plastic lining made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
Coca-Cola said the ultimate goal of the project is to develop a bottle without the plastic liner that can be recycled as paper.
According to research by Changing Markets Foundation published in September, Coca-Cola is the biggest plastic polluting firm in the world, with a plastic footprint of 2.9 million tonnes per year.
But in the next nine years the company has pledged to collect and recycle 100 per cent of the bottles and cans it sells while producing zero waste.
Last week it announced 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles were being rolled out in some parts of the United States.
The new paper bottle prototype is being developed as part of a partnership between Coca‑Cola’s and The Paper Bottle Company (Paboco), a Danish startup working in cooperation with brewer Carlsberg, beauty product company L’Oréal and spirit producer Absolut.
“The trial we are announcing is a milestone for us in our quest to develop a paper bottle”, said Daniela Zahariea, director of technical supply chain and innovation for Coca‑Cola Europe.
“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.”
Tim Silbermann, project manager product development at Paboco said: “The collaboration with The Coca-Cola Company is really great and shows the wonderful capabilities of paper – especially in the design with the unique texture.
“To reduce plastic weight of the barrier film while keeping the wide mouth opening was challenging, but I am excited about the learning from filling line tests and end consumer feedback. Those will play a major role in developing further towards our goal.”
In December the Coca-Cola company was named the world’s worst plastic polluter for a third year in a row by campaigning group Break Free From Plastic.
In its annual audit of plastic waste found on beaches, rivers, parks and communities across the globe, found Coca-Cola bottles were by far the worst offender.
The company’s branding was discovered on 13,834 pieces of plastic at 51 of the 55 sites surveyed – more than the combined total of Nestlé (8,633) and PepsiCo (5,155), which were the second and third worst polluters.