That’s why two years ago, The Coca‑Cola Company launched its World Without Waste vision to collect and recycle every bottle or can we sell globally by 2030. To help us achieve this goal we will be investing in our packaging to make it more recyclable and to contain more recycled content, as well as investing in partnership and collection models to help increase recycling rates.
You can play an important role in protecting our planet by understanding the different types of plastic packaging and how easy it is to recycle. Playing your part at home, at work and in communities means less waste packaging will where it shouldn’t, creating a new green, circular economy.
WHY SHOULD WE RECYCLE?
Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into something new - a plastic bottle may get a second life as fabric for duvets, pillows, clothing, shoes or even new bottle. Glass can be crushed and made into new bottles and jars. Cans can be shredded and turned into new beverage cans time after time.
By recycling you help prevent waste from ending up in landfills or as litter polluting our earth. Recycling also saves on the need for new raw materials, preserving the natural environment, saving energy and reducing carbon emissions.
WHAT CAN BE RECYCLED?
Coca‑Cola’s commitment is that 100% of our packaging will be recyclable by 2025, and in many countries, this has already been achieved.
Plastic: On most plastic containers and packaging, you’ll find a recycling triangle with a number in the middle and sometimes letters underneath. These show what type of plastic it’s made of and how easy it is to recycle. Look out for identification numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 on our bottles, which means the different parts of our PET plastic bottles can be recycled – from the cap to the lid and label. Our partner The PET Collection Company (PETCO) helps collect and recycle millions of bottles each year.
Cans: Aluminum cans are 100% recyclable. Once collected, they’re sorted, shredded and melted before being turned into new cans and even used in rocket ships! We partner with Collect-A-Can (www.collectacan.co.za) to promote the recycling of our beverage cans.
Glass: Glass is an excellent recycling material because it can be recycled endlessly. Once it’s collected, it is screened, crushed and mixed with other raw materials before being moulded into new bottles and jars. We partner with The Glass Recycling Company to turn used bottles into new ones. Find out how to recycle your glass here. https://theglassrecyclingcompany.co.za/
Paper: Waste paper and cardboard can be turned into fresh paper after a process of collecting, sorting, cleaning and pulping. If kept dry and uncontaminated by food or liquids, our paper packaging is 100% recyclable. Separate your paper from the rest of your waste for it to begin its journey back to pristine paper.
IS MY SOFT DRINK PLASTIC BOTTLE RECYCLABLE?
As part of our World Without Waste strategy, The Coca‑Cola Company aims to make our packaging 100% recyclable by 2030.
These are the most common identification codes you’ll find on our bottles:
#1: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
PET is one of the most widely recycled plastics globally and can be identified by the #1 in the recycling triangle. All of Coca‑Cola’s plastic bottles are made from this plastic polymer. By recycling your PET bottles you’re giving each bottle a second life as fabric for duvets, pillows, clothing, shoes or allowing it to return as recycled PET in new bottles. To enable recycling, empty the contents, replace the closure and separate the bottles from general waste by putting it into the recycling bin.
#2: High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
This type of plastic is a widely used rigid packaging and is also recycled in most markets. Most milk bottles, shampoo/conditioner bottles and other home and personal care containers are made from HDPE. It is also the primary material used for closures or caps used on Coca‑Cola’s plastic bottles. HDPE is generally recycled into non-food or beverage applications like plastic crates and piping, but technology is steadily improving, and recycled material is increasingly being used again in home and personal care bottles. To make sure our lids are recycled, screw the lid back onto your empty bottle!
#3: Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
LDPE is the most common flexible plastic and is used for a variety of applications from clear plastic bags, sachets and sheeting to the branded shrink wrap around bottles and cans. Although not always easy to recycle, LDPE pallet wrap, clear bags and both clear and printed stretch wrap are widely collected and recycled. Clear material can go into a variety of applications whilst printed material can be used for applications like dustbin bags. To enable recycling of LDPE, keep the material clean and place it into plastics recycling stream.
#4: Biaxially-oriented Polypropylene (BOPP)
The labels on our bottles are generally made from biaxially-oriented polypropylene. It’s an ideal printing surface and is the preferred label choice of PET bottle recyclers. BOPP labels are compatible with PET bottle recycling because they are attached with relatively little glue and can be easily separated from the PET bottles. Recycling plants use flotation to separate the labels and caps from the PET and can be recovered and recycled. The mixed label and cap material recovered is used to produce products like plastic furniture. Although removing labels and caps before recycling may simplify the recycling process, it generally will mean that neither would be recycled separately due to their size and weight.
FOLLOW THE EASY 4Cs of RECYCLING PET PLASTIC
1. CLEAN – Clean empty bottles are far more likely to be recycled and can be recycled into more valuable products than dirty bottles. Consume the product and make sure the bottle is empty. Recyclers pay by weight. Any small amounts of liquid or dirt means the recycling is paying for something that they cannot use later. It makes the recycling industry more efficient if our plastic bottles are clean and empty.
2. CRUSH – Crush it – this saves waste reclaimers time in crushing our bottles. They do this so that they can carry more in their trolley to the buy-back recycling centre. Smaller crushed bottles mean reclaimers can collect more bottles and make more money on each trip.
3. CAP – Screw the lid back on. The lid can also be recycled, so by screwing the lid back on, there is less chance the lid will get lost and cause environmental damage. Additionally, the lid stops dirt and other liquids getting into the bottle and keeps them cleaner.
4. CLASSIFY – Separating recyclables from general household waste is perhaps the most important step we can all take individually to enable recycling. Even in neighborhoods without formal recycling collection systems, separating recyclables into a clear plastic bag makes them more accessible to informal waste reclaimers or allows municipal services to recover material later. You don’t need to separate out all the different recyclables from each other – such as paper, cans, plastic or glass. The important thing to remember is to separate recyclables from food waste or other waste that could contaminate them and make it harder to recycle.
How can I contribute to your recycling programme?
The Coca‑Cola Company doesn’t run its own recycling facilities (in South Africa). Rather, we work with industry-lead organisations, like PETCO ( www.petco.co.za ) that focus on increasing the collection and recycling of our bottles and cans. Our contribution to these organisations is based on what we sell into the market and therefore by simply by buying a Coca‑Cola product, you are contributing to recycling.
We also support recycling by purchasing recycled material and by 2030, our goal is that 50% of our packaging will be made from recycled material. To help in this process, you can start by separating the recyclables (glass, tins, plastic and paper) from your food waste. If you have waste reclaimers in your neighbourhood, you can put all these recyclables in a clear plastic refuse bag for them to collect. Alternatively, you can take your recyclables to a recycling drop off site near you.
You can find a drop-off site close to you by clicking on one of these links:
How do I know if the packaging I use is recyclable?
Unfortunately, it is not always easy to tell if packaging is recyclable or more accurately is recycled in your area. Across the world, companies and governments are looking for simple systems to help consumers sort recyclables from non-recyclables. In South Africa a “traffic light” system has been proposed but is yet to be implemented. However, Coca‑Cola’s commitment is that 100% of our packaging will be recyclable by 2025 at the latest and in many countries, this has already been achieved. Once you have enjoyed a Coca‑Cola product, please put it in the recycling!
How can my school get involved in your recycling programme? (South Africa specific)
Our School’s Recycling Programme which is led by our bottling partner Coca‑Cola Beverages South Africa,helps schools across South Africa (except the Western Cape) collect waste materials such as PET bottles, paper, plastic and cans and generate revenue by selling them on to be recycled.
Created as a competition, participating schools are challenged to keep their surroundings clean through waste collection and recycling. The programme also drives long term recycling behavior as these learners become ambassadors for the initiative at home and within their direct circle of influence. In order to incentivize and drive this positive recycling behavior throughout the programme and therafter, awards have been built into the programme, adding a fun competitive element to the initiative while giving learners a reason to do more in driving a culture of recycling.
For more information call: +27 11 848 -2600. Details about the 2019 awards can be found here: https://www.coca-colaafrica.com/stories/next-generation-of-south-african-recycling-heroes-shines-at-2019-schools-recycling-awards
How can I start a plastics collection business?
The demand from brands like Coca‑Cola for recycled material and general awareness of the need for recycling have made the recycling industry one of the fastest growing sectors globally. As such there are many opportunities to become a wastepreneur, starting from simply collecting material or buying and selling recyclables to converting recyclables into finished products. In general collectors, aggregators and traders generally cater for multiple material streams, whilst recyclers i.e. those that convert the material into intermediates or finished products tend to be focussed of fewer or just one material stream, e.g. PET. Recycling is, however, a business and like many other ventures you can benefit from the advice of experts.
Click on the links below for more information.
Do you provide recycling bins for offices and schools?
Schools can sign up to be part of the CCBSA Schools Recycling Awards program in South Africa. Please contact +27 11 848 -2600 for more information about the SA Schools Recycling Awards. Please not, this is a national initiative however, it is not currently implemented in the Western Cape.
For offices, The Coca‑Cola Company does not provide recycling bins, however, we recommend that companies reach out to private waste management companies in their area or the local municipality.
Do you provide support for my business which manufactures items from recycled materials?
Through our participation and contribution to industry organisations like PETCO, we indirectly provide support to the recycling industry in order to both grow the collection and recycling of the packaging we use. Organizations like PETCO have a deep knowledge of recycling value chains and know how best to provide the recycling industry with both advice and financial assistance enabling the production of diverse range of end products. As a Coca‑Cola system, we also support recycling directly by purchasing recycled material and by 2030, our goal is that 50% of our packaging will be made from recycled material.
Please reach out to PETCO for more information:
How could my organisation partner with you for an environmental project?
The Coca‑Cola Company typically partners with global or regional organisations on large scale projects or programs. However, our bottling companies often support more local and grass roots organisations for smaller, more localised projects.
For more information on how to recycle visit: