The Coca-Cola Company today announced a long term target to recycle or reuse 100 percent of the aluminum beverage cans it sells in the U.S. This new objective builds on the Company's previously announced goal to recycle or reuse 100 percent of its PET plastic bottles.
"We have made a commitment to ensure the sustainability -- and recyclability -- of our packaging," said Sandy Douglas, president, Coca-Cola North America. "We envision a world in which our packaging is no longer seen as waste, but as a valuable resource for future use."
Aluminum beverage cans are among the most recycled consumer products in the U.S -- one out of every two aluminum cans is recycled today. Recycling aluminum is highly efficient and requires 95 percent less energy than creating aluminum from raw materials. It also reduces carbon emissions by 95 percent. Coca-Cola currently uses an average 60 percent recycled aluminum in its beverage cans.
Support for Recycling
Coca-Cola also has continued to invest in recycling programs and infrastructure. In 2007, the Company invested $60 million in a series of recycling initiatives, including support of RecycleBank's curbside collection program and the construction of the world's largest PET bottle-to-bottle recycling plant in Spartanburg, S.C.
In 2007, Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), the world's largest Coca-Cola bottler, formed Coca-Cola Recycling LLC (CCR) with a mission to recover and recycle the packaging materials developed and used by the Coca-Cola system. CCR plays a key role in the Company's aspiration to recycle and reuse 100 percent of its packaging. While the primary beverage container materials -- aluminum and PET -- have high value as recyclables, not enough are recovered to meet the increasing demand.
"We established Coca-Cola Recycling to help increase recycling rates in North America and to ensure that our system has ready access to recycled material," said John Burgess, president and chief operating officer, Coca-Cola Recycling. "By the end of 2008, Coca-Cola Recycling will recycle more than 100 million pounds each of PET and aluminum."
CCR has established centralized recycling centers at CCE's major production facilities across the country. It also has created innovative collection programs at colleges and universities, office buildings and retail centers, as well as major sporting events, music festivals and other large scale events to drive recycling behavior among consumers.
Today's announcement follows the Company's receipt of the National Recycling Coalition's "Recycling Works" award. The award presentation was made in Washington, D.C. at the NRC's annual reception February 12. The award recognized the Company for its goal to recycle or reuse its PET plastic bottles and aluminum cans; for its commitment to sustainable packaging; and for its investment in recycling infrastructure.
Coca-Cola has been working to enhance the sustainability of its packaging for several decades. The Company commissioned the first study to examine the environmental impact of a package in 1969 and introduced the first food grade plastic bottle made with recycled material in 1991. Since then, Coca-Cola has continued to improve the resource efficiency of its beverage packages through light weighting efforts and raw material reductions. For example, aluminum cans have been reduced by 33 percent, glass bottles by 57 percent and plastic bottles by 32 percent since their introduction. Light weighting and bottle closure design efforts across all Coca-Cola products in PET packages will save 100 million pounds of plastic this year in the U.S.