Advancing Coca-Cola's Reusable Packaging Pilots
In early 2022, The Coca-Cola Company made headlines by unveiling a new goal that supports its global sustainable packaging strategy, known as the World Without Waste initiative.
By 2030, the company aims to serve 25% of its global product volume to consumers using reusable packaging. This ambitious plan includes the adoption of returnable bottles and refillable cups for fountain dispensers.
The priority lies in countries with established reuse infrastructures and supply chains, particularly in Africa, Europe, and Latin America. However, in North America, where on-premise outlets like restaurants, music and sports venues, and cinemas contribute significantly to the company's volume, the focus is on driving the adoption of refillable vessels to help achieve the global reusable target, reduce single-use waste, and limit the use of new materials.
Embracing a test-learn-scale approach, the company is actively conducting reusable packaging pilots in North America to accelerate progress.
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A noteworthy collaboration includes a partnership with r.Cup, a company specialising in end-to-end reusable cup solutions for large-scale sports and entertainment venues, festivals, cinemas, and events.
The joint effort aims to scale up r.Cup's innovative platform in major cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, and Washington, D.C.
According to Anton van Zyl, Director of Sustainable Packaging Strategy at Coca-Cola North America, the company is committed to reducing its environmental impact across the supply chain and ensuring that all packaging holds value in the circular economy. The partnership with r.Cup is a testament to Coca-Cola's dedication to experimenting, learning, and expanding options for consumers to enjoy their beverages in reusable packaging.
Concessionaires in North America are offered a range of durable polypropylene cups that provide a premium drinking experience. These reusable cups, collected and washed by r.Cup after use, undergo sanitisation and inspection before being repackaged for future use.
r.Cup takes care of on-site deliveries, pickups, supplies collection bins, staff training, signage, and social media content. Customers can track their environmental impact and manage inventories through r.Cup's innovative r.Turn technology.
Supported by Coca-Cola North America, r.Cup is expanding its infrastructure and frontline capabilities in key cities, creating employment opportunities for second-chance workers and military veterans, and directing a portion of its profits to local nonprofits dedicated to addressing the packaging waste crisis.
Coca-Cola North America collaborates with local bottling partners to help fountain customers integrate reusable packaging solutions into their sustainability programmes and business strategies.
The demand for reusable options from customers is evident, and recent partnerships, such as the one with a prominent venue operator in Washington, D.C., and the adoption of the r.Cup programme by two movie theaters in Seattle further emphasise this trend.
The company is actively engaged in additional reusable packaging pilots across North America, including a returnable glass bottle pilot in El Paso, Texas, in collaboration with Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages.
Moreover, the company is partnering with Validfill to launch reusable cups equipped with a microchip and QR-enabled technology for Coca-Cola Freestyle machines at theme parks, university campuses, and cruise ships.
The collaboration with A&W Canada on an exchangeable cup programme and the efforts with Reuse Seattle to promote reusable fountain cups demonstrate the company's unwavering commitment to driving sustainability and circularity in food service packaging through various initiatives, including supporting the NextGen Consortium.
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