Thursday, May 14, 2009

Coke Launches "Plant Bottle"

Coca-Cola has announced that they will test their new "Plant Bottle" in North America this year.

The "PlantBottle™" is currently made through an innovative process that turns sugar cane and molasses, a by-product of sugar production, into a key component for PET plastic. Coca-Cola is also exploring the use of other plant materials for future generations of the "PlantBottle™." Up to 30% of the bottle will be made up of sugar cane waste.

This is ironic in that Coke uses high-fructose corn syrup as the sweetener in its beverages. This is generally the result of price supports for sugar and subsidies to the corn industry.

It should also be noted that in Florida much of the sugar cane waste is burned along with yard waste from places such as South Florida for energy.

After the hoopla of this announcement, look for the recycling industry to claim these bottles are not compatible with current recycling facilities. In turn, look for communities with high recycling rates to have negative comments. While that may be of importance to those of us who faithfully recycle our PET bottles, the fact is in 2005, only 23% of the 5 billion pounds of plastic bottles produced were recycled in the US. Only 1% of the world's plastic is recycled.

While this may not be "the answer", Coke should be commended for trying something new. This bottle reuses waste, and decreases our dependence on foreign oil. Let's hope for a 100% waste-based bottle in the future that is also compostable.

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