Sprite stops using green bottles to increase recycling, but some feel it’s insufficient: NPR

The iconic green Sprite bottle is on the left. The brand-new clear bottle is on the right. The Coca-Cola Company; Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images hide caption

switch to caption The Coca-Cola Company; Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The iconic green Sprite bottle is on the left. The brand-new clear bottle is on the right.

The Coca-Cola Company; Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images; Sprite has been sold in recognizable green bottles for more than 60 years. That time period is already over.

The Coca-Cola Co., which manufactures Sprite, will begin packaging the lemon-lime soda in clear plastic bottles in North America on August 1st, the company announced Wednesday .

Coca-Cola claims that by using clear plastic to bottle Sprite, more recycling opportunities will be available for the bottles. Increasing the availability of recycled plastic that the company may employ to produce future bottles is one objective, according to the corporation.

According to a statement from Julian Ochoa, the CEO of R3CYCLE, a plastic recycling business that partners with Coca-Cola, “removing colors from bottles increases the quality of the recovered material.”

Green plastic bottles for Sprite were already recyclable. But in order to prevent recycled plastic from being discolored, colored plastic bottles are routinely segregated from clear plastic bottles throughout the recycling process, according to Coca-Cola. The green Sprite bottles were recycled more frequently into items like carpeting and clothing, which are more challenging to recycle once more.

Environmental organizations claim that single-use plastic is the issue. Environmental groups claim that the material, not the color, is the issue with Sprite bottles: disposable plastic.

Kate Melges, who oversees Greenpeace’s Plastics Project, called Coca-recent Cola’s declaration “yet another brazen greenwashing attempt from one of the world’s largest plastic polluters.” “We cannot recycle our way out of the tremendous plastic pollution catastrophe that we are currently facing.”

According to information that Coca-Cola supplied to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2019, the company creates more than 100 billion plastic bottles annually, making it one of the leading producers of single-use plastic waste in the world.

PET, also known as polyethylene terephthalate, is the most common form of plastic used to make soft drink bottles. Although PET is recyclable, lightweight, and safe for consumption, it can take hundreds of years for PET to break down.

Only about 29% of PET plastic in the US is recycled, according to the EPA .

Bottles containing recycled content will still be discarded, dumped, or left lying around, according to Matt Littlejohn of Oceana, an organization dedicated to protecting the oceans.

Concerns over single-use plastic have prompted requests that food and beverage industries boost sustainability by, whenever possible, avoiding the production of new plastic.

COCA-COLA HAS IN THE PAST PROMISED TO BOOST SUSTAINABILITY Coca-Cola has previously made a variety of sustainability pledges , INCLUDING PROMISES TO INCREASE THE PORTION OF ITS PACKAGING THAT CAN BE RECYCLED CURRENTLY 90%, WITH A GOAL OF 100% BY 2025 AND TO INCREASE THE PROPORTION OF RECYCLED MATERIAL USED TO MAKE ITS PACKAGING CURRENTLY 23%,

Coca-Cola has experimented in recent years with both the use of plant-based materials and bottles made completely of recyclable PET, or rPET.

According to Chris Vallette, senior vice president of technical innovation and stewardship at Coca-Cola, “demand for rPET currently exceeds supply, thus the first step to scaling up use of 100 percent rPET throughout our portfolio is developing a sustainable pipeline of high-quality material.”

In a few places around the U.S., the 13.2-oz clear Sprite bottles were first introduced last year are smaller.
Fresca, Seagram’s, and Mello Yello, other Coca-Cola beverages that currently come in green plastic bottles, will also switch to transparent plastic containers.

The company also disclosed in the statement that Dasani bottled water will now come in bottles made completely of recycled plastic. More than 20 million pounds of newly produced plastic are expected to be saved by Coca-Cola compared to 2019, a negligible portion of the company’s entire plastic production.

Refillable bottles have been requested by environmental groups like Greenpeace and Oceana, who have urged the corporation to abandon single-use plastic bottles.

Coca-Cola claims that at least 25% of its beverages globally to be sold in reusable or returnable containers is its target by 2030. This covers beverages offered at soda fountains and those packaged in glass. According to the firm, returnable and refillable packaging accounted for 16% of sales in 2020.