Coca-Cola Races Ahead in Sweden, Shifting to Recycled Plastic

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(Bloomberg) -- Sweden will become the first market where all Coca-Cola products are sold in fully recycled plastic bottles as the beverage giant tries to reduce its environmental impact.

The shift, to take place next year, will cut the use of new plastic by 3,500 tons annually, according to Coca-Cola AB and local bottler Coca-Cola European Partners Plc. Plastic packaging for 40 types of products, including Sprite and Bonaqua, will consist of entirely recycled material next year, except for caps and labels.

A growing consumer backlash is leading the beverage industry to rush toward recycled plastic. Coca-Cola was recently named the top global plastic polluter in a worldwide audit of 476,000 pieces of waste organized by Greenpeace.

However, in western Europe, the soda giant is two years ahead of schedule to reach a goal that at least 50% of its plastic packaging to consist of recycled material by 2025.

“We’re taking a big step,” said Sofie Eliasson Morsink, the bottler’s general manager for Sweden.

One of the biggest obstacles to shifting to recycled plastic is availability. However, Sweden’s recycling rate for most plastic beverage bottles exceeds 80%, helped by a system where consumers get money back for returns, according to Returpack, a recycler.

For the entire world, Coca-Cola has a separate target for 50% recycled content in beverage bottles by 2030. While PepsiCo Inc. and Nestle SA also have their own goals, one of the most ambitious of the major beverage makers is that of Evian bottler Danone, which aims for the 50% level in 2025.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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