The Coca-Cola Company in South Africa has stopped the production of Sprite’s iconic green packaging to produce fresh, new clear polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottle packaging.
The transition to clear packaging means that more Sprite bottles can be collected, recycled and reused to make new bottles.
Coca-Cola Southern and East Africa sustainability head David Drew tells Engineering News that Sprite’s new look is part of Coca-Cola’s World Without Waste vision, which is aimed at ensuring the collection and recycling of one bottle or can for each new one that it sells by 2030.
“Although our previous green PET plastic bottles were recyclable, Sprite’s new clear bottle allows for greater recyclability and increases its value to waste collectors and recyclers.
"Clear PET has a wider variety of end-uses, especially for bottle-to-bottle recycling. Removing the colour from Sprite bottles enables the reuse of more of the bottles our bottling partners sell, in the bottles they will make in the future.
"There was also the need to update the iconic Sprite packaging design as well,” he explains.
“Globally and in South Africa, the Coca-Cola system has set an ambitious World Without Waste target of collecting and recycling 100% of our packaging and to manufacture our bottles using at least 50% recycled PET plastic by 2030,” acclaims Drew.
Further to changing its own packaging, the company is working with both the formal and informal recycling industry to bolster its recycling efforts.
“As one of the founding members of the PET Recycling Company, we will continue to work with organisations in the food and beverage sector to help grow collection and recycling rates. We also share best practice and innovation from a technology and production point of view.
"Furthermore, together with our bottling partners, we are working with informal collectors to develop models for waste reclaimer integration in municipal collection,” informs Drew.
In terms of managing the transition, Drew indicates that, as with any change to packaging, it is necessary to ensure consumers can still easily identify the variant or flavour of the product.
“We’ve done our market research and tested various packaging designs to ensure that we have designed distinct labels and closures so that consumers are able to easily distinguish between the different Sprite variants and flavours,” he says.
The new look Sprite PET plastic bottles are already available on the shelf and the company expects that the previous green PET bottles will be phased out over the next few months.
Sprite is and will continue to be available and sold in green glass bottles. In time, the glass packaging will also migrate to a clear bottle. Given that most of the company’s glass bottles are returnable and can be reused many times, the transition from green to clear will be much more gradual, informs Drew.
The launch of the new packaging will be supported in store for now and then online and through other media platforms such as radio and television, says Drew.
“The realities of Covid-19 will determine how quickly our communications will be in the market as we practice caution and prioritise the safety of staff and agencies during this period,” he notes.
The company does not anticipate any push back from customers with regard to the new packaging, says Drew, as the company believes they support the drive towards sustainability initiatives.