The Coca-Cola Company set a goal to have at least 25% of all its beverages sold in reusable glass, plastic, or refillable fountain containers by 2030.
The commitment, part of the No. 14 consumer goods company’s larger World Without Waste initiative, encompasses its global portfolio of brands. The initiative also aims to use 50% recycled materials in Coca-Cola packaging, as well collect and recycle a can or bottle for each one sold.
Returnable glass bottles and refillable PET represent more than 50% of the company’s product sales in more than 20 markets, according to Coca-Cola, as well as more than 25% of sales in 20 other markets.
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Traditional refillable/returnable packaging accounted for approximately 16% of the company’s total volume in 2020, but Coca-Cola said refillable container use is growing in several markets and outperforming non-reusable containers in Germany and parts of Latin America. In those regions, reusable bottles represented 27% of transactions in 2020.
“Increasing refillable and reusable packaging options responds to consumer affordability and our sustainability aspirations, and it helps create a circular economy,” said James Quincey, Coca-Cola chairman and CEO, in a call with investors this week, “and refillable packages have extremely high levels of collection and our low-carbon footprint beverage containers.”
Quincey noted that integrating sustainability work into its business is a key driver of future growth, and this most recent announcement is one in a series of moves the company has made to reduce its environmental footprint. Last year it developed a bottle prototype made from 100% plant-based plastic (bPET) — with the exception of the cap and label.
Ocean conversation advocacy organization Oceana called the move a step in the right direction, but said greater transparency is still needed and urged other major beverage companies to follow suit.
Each market will approach the goal in a different way, according to Ben Jordan, senior director of packaging and climate at The Coca-Cola Company, who added the company will continue to highlight markets serving as leaders in reusable packaging best practices, as well as support other markets increasing reusable packaging use.