Coca Cola introduces first paper bottle prototype

A bottle made 100% from paper

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Coca cola
First generation paper bottle includes plastic closure and thin plastic lining made from 100% recycled PET. Bottle is 100% recyclable. Photo – Coca Cola

In partnership with Paboco and the three other companies in the Paboco Pioneer Community, Coca Cola has revealed a first-generation prototype of its bottle made 100% from paper – an innovative packaging technology that may help the company to achieve a World Without Waste. Coca Cola aims to collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one the company will sell by 2030, while also substantially reducing the use of virgin packaging materials and only using packaging materials 100% recyclable. It will take continuing investment in innovation, exploration of different technologies, and, crucially, partnership, and collaboration to get there.

At a lab in Brussels, Stijn and his team are working on the paper bottle prototype. “Our vision is to create a paper bottle than can be recycled like any other type of paper, and this prototype is the first step on the way to achieving this. A paper bottle opens up a whole new world of packaging possibilities, and we are convinced that paper packaging has a role to play in the future,” says Stijn Franssen, EMEA R&D Packaging Innovation manager at Coca Cola, who is working on the project.

Coca Cola mentioned that a lot of work must be done to achieve this vision of a recyclable paper bottle. The first-generation paper bottle still contains some plastic. “This first-generation paper bottle prototype still consists of a paper shell with a plastic closure and a plastic liner inside. The plastic we use is made from 100% recycled plastic that can be recycled again after use. But our vision is to create a paper bottle that can be recycled like any paper. The next step is to find a solution to create a bottle without the plastic liner,” Stijn says.

Just like other types of packaging, a paper bottle of the future must adhere to the same high safety and quality standards for food packaging that currently apply. Stijn and this team are putting the bottle through comprehensive testing in the lab to see how it performs in the refrigerator, how strong it is, and how well it protects the drinks inside.

“We also reflect on how our consumers will react to this paper bottle. Topics like when and where it could be sold and how it can be recycled are all considered. The bottle must be explored from every perspective to ensure that we make the bottle the best it can be,” says Stijn.

He is optimistic that future technological solutions will help achieve the vision of a paper bottle that’s recyclable as paper – a type of packaging technology that can be part of Coca Cola’s packaging and portfolio mix, and which could be used for a wide range of beverages. “This is all part of our journey to find the most sustainable packaging solutions for people to enjoy our drinks in a way that is right for them, and that is right for our planet,” says Stijn.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

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