Coca-Cola trials delivery of refillable glass bottles in London1 Aug 2023
In an effort to make good on commitments to cut back its plastic pollution, Coca-Cola is testing out a new system of delivering, collecting and reusing glass bottles of Coke Zero directly with customers.
The beverage is being distributed to homes in the UK in a partnership with delivery business Milk & More. The trial began on 5 June and will run throughout the summer in south London and central southern England.
“In an incredibly exciting UK industry first, you can now enjoy the delicious taste of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar delivered to your door in refillable glass bottles! No more wishcycling, just re-use,” Milk & More said in a recent LinkedIn post.
“The bottles are washed and refilled up to 20 times, resulting in an impressive 82% smaller carbon footprint compared to using single-use glass bottles.”
Partnering with the ‘home of refill’
Based in the UK, Milk & More is described as an online artisan grocer. It delivers and collects a variety of other beverages in reusable glass bottles, including milk, fruit juice, water, soft drinks and mixers. It also uses electric vehicles to deliver the drinks, and its glass bottles are reused an average of 28 times.
“This exciting development is part of our journey to become the Home of Refill. With over 43% of recycled glass ending up in landfill or incinerated and 36 million tonnes of carbon emissions produced each year from UK recycling, refill is the future,” Milk & More said.
“We believe that refillable products are the most effective way we can all reduce unnecessary waste and our carbon footprint. Having delivered and collected empties for over 100 years we are in a great position to lead the refill charge and we're dedicated to supporting other brands to switch to refillable and reusable packaging.”
On its website, Milk & More has added Coke Zero to its list of available beverages:
“Enjoy the classic taste of the world's favourite fizz without any sugar, fewer calories, and bottled up in glass just like the good old days. Even better - your milkman will collect the one litre glass bottle to be refilled and reused!”
“We are working with our partners at Coca-Cola to trial customer interest in cutting down on single-use packaging by enjoying refillable Coca-Cola Zero Sugar in a convenient doorstep delivery.”
A step in the right direction
Coca-Cola has been attempting to rehabilitate its sustainability image after a few recent setbacks. The company set a goal of increasing the overall share of its products sold in reusable packaging to 25% by 2030, but that share declined from 16% to 14% in 2022.
Ocean conservation organisation Oceana said that this decline could mean Coca-Cola instead produced the equivalent of an additional 5.8 billion 500ml single-use plastic bottles and cups in place of reusable packaging.
“Oceana estimates that if Coca-Cola meets its commitment to reach 25% reusable packaging, the company could avoid producing the cumulative equivalent of over 100 billion 500ml single-use plastic bottles and cups,” Oceana said.
“In addition, based on global rates of aquatic plastic pollution from a recent peer-reviewed study, Oceana estimates that approximately 8.5 to 14.7 billion plastic bottles and cups could be prevented from reaching our waterways and seas.”
© AdobeStock/VGV MEDIA
The non-profit advocacy group said that Coca-Cola needs to dedicate more support and leadership toward growing its sales of reusable containers worldwide and marketing the benefits to customers.
Reusable, refillable and recyclable
Coca-Cola is recognised as the world’s worst plastic polluter, and has topped pollution lists for decades. Reusable packaging is just one way the company can lessen its impact on the environment.
Earlier this year, Coca-Cola announced a €40 million investment in refillable bottling infrastructure. The company said this will help to “drive progress on sustainability ambitions while meeting market demand.”
It follows the 1-litre glass bottles for Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar that were introduced in Germany in 2019, and as well as a EUR €130 million euro investment that Coca-Cola has made in reusable packaging in the region over the last three years.
In addition to reusable packaging, Coca-Cola is trying to address its sustainability pitfalls by investing in new recycling technology in Europe. Recycling start-up CuRe Technology “creates high-quality rPET with a carbon footprint that is approximately 65% lower than virgin PET.”
This material can be used for food and drink packaging and “re-processed as many times as necessary,” Coca-Cola said, which will “offer a new lease of life for hard-to-recycle plastics, accelerating the transition to a circular economy for PET and creating a new stream of rPET.”
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