Green and Clear Sprite Bottles

The Coca-Cola Company: Green to Clear PET

The Need: Plastic, especially PET (polyethylene terephthalate), is among the most highly valued recyclable materials because it can be remade to make new bottles and other products. Currently, there is not enough recycled PET (rPET) available to meet increased demand. One reason is that not enough plastic is currently getting recycled. We need more PET recycled, so that we can turn that into rPET, promoting a circular economy.

Traditionally, unpigmented PET has the highest value and the widest variety of end-use applications for recycling. However, many of our brands utilize green PET. Green PET can’t easily be turned back into clear plastic, so it’s less valuable for the overall market and doesn’t promote bottle-to-bottle recycling.

The Solution: Since its launch in 1959, Sprite has always sported a signature green bottle. But in 2022, the entire Sprite PET portfolio evolved from its iconic green color packaging to clear PET, increasing the material’s likelihood to be remade into a new bottle.  

The transition took place in the U.S. and Canada and included Mello Yello, Seagram’s and Fresca brands.

When recycled, green plastic is more often converted into single-use items that do not get recycled again. Clear plastic (PET) gives Sprite and our other brands the opportunity to be remade into another bottle, therefore taking part in the circular economy – an economic system aimed at eliminating waste through the continual use of existing, valuable resources

Which of the Pact’s 4 Targets does your work help achieve? TARGET 3: Undertake ambitious actions to effectively recycle or compost 50% of plastic packaging by 2025

TARGET 4: By 2025, the average recycled content or responsibly sourced bio-based content in plastic packaging will be 30%

What makes it particularly smart or circular? By transitioning our entire U.S. and Canada green PET portfolio to clear PET, we aim to increase the availability of high-quality, food-grade recycled PET we need to meet our World Without Waste goal of using at least 50% recycled material in our bottles and cans by 2030 globally.  

The work we are doing to increase our use of recycled content and support recycling are helping to drive a circular economy for plastics by creating more demand for recycled content, while also incentivizing the collection of recyclables.

Results, Benefits, and Outcomes to Date: Sprite launched a marketing campaign, “New Bottle. Same Taste,” to support the new package. Its primary objective was to reassure consumers the beloved lemon-lime flavor remains as crisp and refreshing as ever, now served in a clear bottle that’s made to be remade. The marketing campaign delivered 1.4 billion impressions over an eight-week period across social media, linear TV, OTT, Cinema, out of home and shopper materials.

News of the packaging innovation generated 193 media placements and 557 million earned impressions in the U.S. and Canada. The announcement produced significant social conversation with a total of 7,714 total posts generating 917M potential impressions.

As the clear bottles recently launched, we don’t have data yet on sales or impact to recycled content availability.

Core Team, Partners, & Participants: The conversion from green to clear PET was a cross-functional effort. Key internal partners include marketing, technical, research and development, sustainability and public affairs.

Time Frame: The project took nearly two years to complete.

Quote: “Sprite’s status as one of the biggest and most recognized brands in the world can largely be attributed to its crisp lemon-lime taste and the color green. As we continue to look at the overall recyclability and usability of all our packaging materials, we saw the opportunity to transition the colored plastic bottle of one of our biggest brands to clear plastic bottle, increasing the material’s likelihood to be remade into a new bottle. This initiative is a key example of how we’re using the power of our brands to educate, inspire and advance our sustainability priorities.” – Kurt Ritter, Vice President and General Manager, Sustainability, North America Operating Unit, The Coca-Cola Company

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