How Coca-Cola UK Is Trying To Make Bottle Caps More Eco-Friendly

In an effort to increase sustainability, by 2024 all Coca-Cola brand drinks in the U.K. that come in single-use plastic bottles will have an attached cap. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company has already introduced the new design on 1.5-liter bottles of Fanta, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, and Diet Coke in Scotland, a change that's expected to help cut down on the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills. This may seem minor to the regular consumer, but Coca-Cola shared that while the current bottle caps are recyclable, they often get lost, causing them to be sorted into regular trash, or worse, discarded as litter.

All those bottle caps add up, and they have for the past four years. As Reuters shares, since 2017 the Coca-Cola Company has been responsible for producing the most plastic in the world, according to annual reports from global coalition Break Free From Plastic. Bloomberg estimates that amounts to about 3 million tons of plastic being produced at 200,000 bottles a minute. Something as simple as attaching the cap to the bottle in products distributed in the U.K. could therefore significantly change the amount of Coca-Cola plastic that ends up as waste.

The new bottle caps are part of a larger sustainability plan

Coca-Cola U.K. may have set out to attach the caps to its plastic bottles by 2024, but what about the ones everywhere else? According to Coca-Cola worldwide, much bigger plans are in store, but it may be a while before they're in full effect. In October 2021, the company publicly pledged "to collect back the equivalent of every bottle it sells by 2030, so none of its packaging ends up as waste and old bottles are recycled into new ones; to make 100% of its packaging recyclable; and to ensure 50% of its packaging comes from recycled material."

Instead of just redesigning the bottle caps, the soda company is working on redesigning the whole bottle. It's been several years in the making, but Coca-Cola has successfully developed a prototype for a bottle made with 100% plant-based material. This is a major step up from the eco-friendly bottle it introduced in 2009, made with 30% sugarcane-based monoethylene glycol. While both bottles are recyclable and better for the environment compared to other commercial plastics, the 100% plant-based bottle has a much lower carbon footprint. In addition to these new, more eco-friendly bottles, the company announced plans in early 2022 to offer consumers refillable Coke bottles to encourage less plastic and glass waste, with the hopes that by 2030 these bottles would represent 25% of its global sales.

It'll take time to roll out the new technology, but for now the attached bottle caps in the U.K. will have to do.