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UK: Sprite scraps labels from bottles in new trial

Coca-Cola will temporarily remove labels from Sprite and Sprite Zero on-the-go bottles this January in a limited trial of “label-less” packaging.

The pilot will see labels temporarily removed from single 500ml Sprite and Sprite Zero bottles and replaced with an embossed logo on the front of the pack. Laser-engraved product and nutritional information will appear on the back of the pack.

While existing labels are fully recyclable, removing them simplifies the recycling process. It removes the need to separate them from the bottles during the recycling process, and reduces the amount of packaging material used overall.

Shoppers are being invited to try out the new limited design, which will be sold at eight Tesco Express Stores in Brighton and Hove, Bristol, London and Manchester between January and March 2024.

Like existing Sprite packaging, the clear, 100 per cent recycled PET bottles feature green and transparent attached caps identifying them as Sprite or Sprite Zero respectively.

In recent years, Coca-Cola has introduced a number of design changes to help reduce packaging waste, including turning Sprite bottles from green to clear plastic to make them easier to recycle back into bottles.

It has also introduced attached caps to its bottles, ensuring that the cap stays connected to the bottle after opening to reduce the potential for littering; and invested in new designs to reduce the amount of packaging it uses, such as creating lightweight bottles and reducing the materials used in external packaging.

Dusan Stojankic, VP Franchise Operations, GB&I at Coca-Cola Great Britain commented: “We want to help create a future where plastic drink packaging will always have more than one life.

“Labels contain valuable information for consumers, but with the help of technology we can now trial other ways to share this information while reducing the amount of packaging we use. 

“Going label-less might seem like a small step, but it is one of several ways we are exploring making recycling easier, minimising waste, and minimising the impact of our packaging on the environment.”

Javier Meza, VP Marketing, Coca-Cola Europe, added: “The trial we are announcing today is a milestone for the industry. It’s the first time these two technologies have been used in a pilot globally, where a Coca-Cola product will appear in a label-less, single-unit bottle sold in-store.”

Last year, the Coca-Cola Company said it was making a “unified” global push behind the Sprite brand to build a consistent presence and maximise its potential. Globally, the brand made the biggest household penetration gains of any FMCG brand in 2022, according to figures from Kantar published last year.

This is not the first time the Coca-Cola Company has trialled scrapping labels on its drinks. Trials of label-free Coca-Cola have been run in Asian markets, including South Korea and Japan. In September 2022, the company launched bottles of its Switzerland water brand Valser without labels.

Danone-owned water brand Evian has also previously released a line of label-free bottles.

Source: MarketingWeek.com, The Coca-Cola Co

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