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Here’s everything we’re doing in Great Britain to ensure that our packaging leaves as little mark on the environment as possible.

Here in Great Britain, all of our cans and bottles are fully recyclable. But we know that in reality that doesn’t always happen.

So, to achieve our goal of helping to collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can we sell worldwide by 2030 – a commitment laid out in our global sustainability vision, a World Without Waste – we’re continually working to improve the sustainability of all our packaging and help more of it get collected and recycled.

Here’s everything we’re doing…

1. We’re ensuring our packaging is as sustainable as possible

Creating sustainable packaging isn’t just about ensuring it can be recycled. It’s about going to the start of the process and looking at the materials we use and how we use them. Increasing the amount of recycled materials we put into our packaging is an important part of that.

In Great Britain, packaging for many of our brands, including Coca‑Cola Original Taste, Coca‑Cola Zero Sugar, Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Dr Pepper and Lilt, is now more sustainable than ever. We’re proud to say that all our plastic bottles of 500ml or less are made with 100% recycled plastic. By using 100% recycled materials to make our bottles we are saving 29,000 tonnes of virgin plastic – the equivalent of 2,292 double decker buses!

And we’re trialing new, more sustainable alternatives to plastic.

We recently piloted Coca‑Cola’s first ever drink in a paper bottle through our AdeZ brand in Hungary. We’re continuing to push forward with developing this project, and hopefully it won’t be too long until you see paper bottles on store shelves!

We also made the switch from plastic shrink-wrap to cardboard to house our multipack cans sold in GB. That means more than 30 million packs sold to consumers each year will no longer be wrapped in plastic. The move is part of an initiative across Western Europe that saw 4,000 tonnes of plastic removed from our supply chain in 2020.

Small changes can also make a big difference; we changed Sprite bottles from green to clear so that it will be easier to turn the material back into new bottles, while our bottles are also now lighter than ever.

Since 2007, we’ve decreased the weight of our packaging by 27%, which has reduced the volume of natural resources and energy we use in manufacturing.


2. We’re using our brands to encourage people to recycle

At the moment in Great Britain, around 70% of plastic bottles are recycled, so we know that there’s a lot of work to be done. That’s why we’re using our brands, advertising and partnerships to inspire and encourage people to recycle when they’ve enjoyed one of our drinks.

We’ve run advertising campaigns reminding people to recycle – and our Coca‑Cola bottles have a ‘Please Recycle Me’ message to help spread awareness.

3. We’re championing new ways of recovering our packaging

Alongside promoting recycling, we’re focusing on finding new ways to recover packaging, so that more can be recycled than ever before. After all, the more we get back, the more we can turn into new packaging again.

Our ‘Marine Plastic Bottle’ is a great example of that. As part of a pilot project in collaboration with Ioniqa Technologies, Indorama Ventures, and Mares Circulares, we created 300 bottles using 25% recycled marine plastic, retrieved from the Mediterranean Sea and beaches. The pilot was made possible by enhanced recycling technologies, which can take lower-grade plastic – like marine plastic – strip out any impurities and give new life to plastic that would previously have been destined for incineration or landfill.

But we need to recover plastic in the first place if we want to put our innovative recycling technologies to use. Which is why we’re supportive of a well-designed Deposit Return Scheme for plastic bottles and cans here in Great Britain – and our other European markets – to ensure more packaging is recovered. We’re also proud to support Hubbub’s Treasure Your River campaign, the 2021 edition of which had the goal of removing 95 tonnes of litter – and preventing a further 90 tonnes – from entering seven of the UK’s vital river systems, and subsequently the ocean.

We’ve also pioneered new ways to show our customers that our packaging is 100% recyclable and reward them for disposing of it correctly. Our reverse vending machines are a great example of this, enabling you to exchange your used empty plastic bottles for a voucher for 50% off some of the UK’s leading attractions, including Alton Towers and Thorpe Park.

Ultimately, there’s no single quick-fix solution when it comes to increasing recovery and recycling rates, or for reducing litter. Instead, governments, businesses, NGOs and communities need to work together and take action in a number of areas.