Imagine drinking your favorite Coke beverage from a plastic bottle made from corn stover. That’s the vision of Coca-Cola’s PlantBottleTM initiative: to source biomass from corn stover and other non-food feedstock around the world to manufacture a bottle made entirely from renewable plant material by 2020.
This November, Pacific Ag Vice President Harrison Pettit paid a visit to Coca-Cola’s global headquarters in Atlanta to learn more and to share its expertise on crop residue supply chain development and operation.
Coke first launched its PlantBottle–currently made from 30 percent renewable plant material–in 2009. Since then, over 37 billion bottles containing 20 different Coke beverage brands have been sold in 42 countries.
PlantBottle packaging uses patented technology that converts natural sugars found in plants into the ingredients for making fully-recyclable PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles. The packaging looks, functions and recycles like traditional PET but leaves a lighter footprint on the planet and its resources. Today, the 30-percent renewable content of the PlantBottle comes from Brazilian sugarcane ethanol, a renewable, non-food resource. The ethanol is shipped to India where it is converted to monoethylene glycol (known as MEG). The MEG is then shipped around the world to produce PET resin for the PlantBottle.
Since PlantBottle production began, the Coca-Cola company has eliminated 270,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Those emissions represent the equivalent of 623,000 burned barrels of oil. And while the company is reducing dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels with its PlantBottle, it’s using sugar cane–the lowest impact food source for producing ethanol–to do it.
After a few years of experience with its PlantBottle packaging program, Coca-Cola announced a partnership with H.J. Heinz in 2011 to produce ketchup bottles using PlantBottle packaging. Later that year, Coke invested in three leading biotech companies to speed commercialization of a 100-percent renewable PET bottle.
The following year, Coca-Cola, Ford, Heinz, Nike and P&G formed a collaborative to accelerate development of other PET products made entirely from plants. In the future, any products currently made from petroleum-based PET–like interior automotive fabrics, plastic cups, containers and more–may be made from Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle packaging technology.
Find out more in this Coca-Cola video.