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Coca-Cola SA expands returnable PET bottle program

Following a successful pilot project in the Eastern Cape, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) is expanding the roll-out of 2-litre returnable PET bottles across Northern Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

“The consumer response to the new 2-litre returnable PET bottles has been overwhelmingly positive. We have seen customers in the Eastern Cape opting to switch over to their purchase and returning them after consumption,” says Velaphi Ratshefola, MD of CCBSA.

“After each bottle reaches the end of its useable lifecycle, it joins a regional manufacturing value chain which ultimately means less pollution in the environment.”

The returnable PET bottles are identifiable by a new paper label, with ‘RETURNABLE’ appearing in green on the front of the bottle.

The roll-out constitutes a significant investment by CCBSA in a new packaging line to ensure that the bottles comply with global standards for design, hygiene and safety for PET packaging. 

“We said that we would assess the way forward after the pilot project and we’re now pleased to announce the further roll out to other areas. From there, we will identify geographies in the rest of the country to continue the expansion over a five-year period,” adds Ratshefola.

Returnable PET is part of The Coca-Cola Company’s World Without Waste vision that aims to collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle and can that it sells globally by 2030.

This focuses on the entire packaging value chain, from how bottles and cans are designed and made, to how they’re collected, recycled and reused later.  

“We’re committed to increasing recycled material in our packaging and ensuring more packaging is collected and recycled. The roll-out of returnable PET plastic bottles is another way we can support a circular economy in South Africa,” says Ratshefola. 

Once a bottle is returned to CCBSA, it will go on a looped journey to be cleaned to Coca-Cola’s stringent measures and requirements, then refilled to start its next lifecycle.  When the bottle reaches the end of its useable lifecycle, it joins the recycling value chain and is repurposed into another PET product. 

The recommended retail price for the 2-litre Coca-Cola Original Taste – Less Sugar beverage is R15, which excludes a R9 deposit.

Other brands, like Coca-Cola No Sugar, Sprite and Fanta, are also be available in the new bottle at a RRP of R12 excluding the R9 deposit. This means a saving of around R7 per bottle, depending on where a customer purchases their bottle.

According to the PET Recycling Company (PETCO), 62% of PET bottles were collected after use and recycled in South Africa last year.

The Coca-Cola system in South Africa currently uses an average of 8% recycled content in its plastic bottles in South Africa.

Source: Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa