Coca-Cola to cut waste and boost recycling with attached bottle caps

Consumers will start to see the change on 1.5 litre bottles of Fanta, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Diet Coke in Scotland this month. Credit: Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is making a change to the design of its iconic bottles in a bid to boost recycling rates.

The soft drinks giant said it would stop using screw-cap bottle tops and replace them with attachable caps to encourage consumers to recycle the entire bottle.

The caps are often discarded and littered despite all of Coca-Cola’s bottles, including the caps, being 100% recyclable.

Customers will start to see the change on 1.5 litre bottles of Fanta, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Diet Coke in Scotland this month, with the switch set to be completed for all plastic bottles across the range of brands by early 2024.

“This is a small change that we hope will have a big impact, ensuring that when consumers recycle our bottles, no cap gets left behind," said Coca-Cola Great Britain general manager Jon Woods.

“As the world’s biggest drinks company, we recognise that we have a leading role to play in pushing innovation and design to produce more high-quality recycled plastic which can be converted into new bottles.”

Coca-Cola. Credit: PA

Adam Herriott, from waste reduction organisation Wrap, applauded the move to ensure that as much plastic packaging as possible is captured and recycled. “In 2020, we saw the amount of plastic packaging being recycled increase from 44% to 52%. The small changes are what adds up to make a big difference and when it comes to recycling, the higher quality of the material the better," he said.

The move is the latest in a series of initiatives by brands and retailers under the UK Plastics Pact to reduce plastic waste and boost recycling.

Resources and waste minister Jo Churchill said: “More businesses are finding innovative ways to tackle harmful plastic pollution and Coca-Cola’s new design will make it easier for people to recycle and help reduce litter.”

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A deposit return scheme to crack down on plastic pollution has been repeatedly delayed after it was first announced by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs in 2018.

These schemes see consumers pay an up-front deposit when they buy a drink, which is redeemed on return of the empty drink container.

Possible variants of a deposit return scheme include cash rewards for returning drinks containers without an upfront deposit.

The government pledged to bring in the provision in 2023 but a recent consultation indicated a scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will not be up and running until late 2024 at the earliest.