Coca-Cola Unveils 100% Recycling Goal, New Plant Plans

Coca-Cola Unveils 100% Recycling Goal, New Plant Plans

Coca-Cola announced plans Wednesday to step up its recycling efforts with a $60 million recycling plant that will be the world's largest.

The company touted its ambitious quest to recycle or reuse all of its polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles in the U.S. just a day after it unveiled the newly designed 20-ounce contour bottle that contains 5 percent less PET than its predecessor. Only about 10 percent of its bottles are reportedly recycled now.

"We have set an ambitious goal to recycle or reuse all the plastic bottles we use in the U.S. market," Sandy Douglas, president Coca-Cola North America, said in a statement. "Our investments in recycling infrastructure, coupled with our work on sustainable package design, will help us reach this target."

The plant, to be located in Spartanburg, S.C., will open next year and be at full operating capacity the year after. It will produce some 100 million pounds of food-grade recycled PET plastic for reuse each year.

"Coca-Cola has staked a clear leadership position in its approach to sustainable packaging," said Kate Krebs, executive director, National Recycling Coalition (NRC). "The new Spartanburg plant represents an end-to-end recycling model that is world class and that I hope other industries will follow."

The company already is turning some recycled material into a line of products such as clothing bearing the slogan, “My white t-shirt is green.”

Coca-Cola declared no official goal for increasing the recycled content of its bottles Wednesday. Jeff Seabright, vice president of environment and water resources, told the Associated Press that the company hopes to expand recycled content from the current level of about 5 percent to at least 10 percent by 2010.

The company also announced it will expand relationships with curbside collection organizations, such as RecycleBank in southern New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania. RecycleBank will expand its offerings to upstate New York, Vermont and Massachusetts later this year, with more regions included by 2009.

Wednesday's announcement coincided with the news that Coca-Cola planned to cut between 100 and 125 jobs in its North American unit.