Coca‑Cola’s local bottling partner, Coca‑Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA), is extending the roll-out of their new 2L returnable Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottles in South Africa following a successful pilot in 2019.


“Not only do these returnable PET bottles offer greater value for money to our consumers, they are another step forward on our journey to meet our World Without Waste commitments  of collecting the equivalent of 100% of our packaging by 2030,” says General Manager of Coca‑Cola in South Africa, Luis Avellar.

The company’s World Without Waste vision focuses on the entire packaging value chain from how bottles and cans are designed and made to how they’re collected, recycled and reused later.

“Through the returnable PET bottles, we’re also creating an incentive for consumers to collect packaging, rather than disposing of it into the environment,” says CCBSA Managing Director, Velaphi Ratshefola. “We have a responsibility to not only recycle packaging through our various initiatives, but also to continue to invest in infrastructure that can help us develop innovative packaging to achieve our World Without Waste ambitions.”

Once a bottle is returned to CCBSA, it will go on a looped journey to be cleaned to Coca‑Cola’s stringent measures and requirements, then refilled and distributed back to retail outlets. When the bottle reaches the end of its lifecycle, after being returned to CCBSA, it will be recycled and turned into another PET plastic bottle.

The returnable bottles also feature a paper label and are 100% recyclable, using the equivalent of 16,5% virgin PET plastic per filling compared to a one-way PET plastic bottle.

The initiative strengthens the company’s PET collection efforts through various partnerships such as membership in the PET Recycling Company (PETCO) and several buy-back centres which it has established in communities around the country.

Last year, 62% of PET bottles were collected for recycling. With new returnable PET packaging and other innovations, the Coca‑Cola system will continue improving its collection and recycling rates, until it reaches its ambitious collection targets. More than 92 000 tonnes of post-consumer PET bottles were collected through PETCO, diverting these from landfills and saving 612,000m² of landfill space.

“By designing better bottles, we are turning waste into worth, increasing collection rates and investing in our planet,” says Avellar.  

Following the successful launches of the 2L returnable PET bottle in the provinces of Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and Northern Gauteng, the roll-out extension includes North West, Heidelberg, the southern parts of Mpumalanga, the East Rand and sections of Gauteng (Soweto, Katlehong, Diepsloot, Tembisa, Kagiso and Carltonville, amongst others). Returnable PET is also available in a 1.5L in the Western Cape.

During September, which is National Clean-up and Recycle Month in South Africa, CCBSA will also roll-out a country-wide community clean-up campaign aimed at raising awareness and reducing plastic pollution.