In an effort to go green, Sprite is ditching its own iconic green. The Coca-Cola product has been packaged in green bottles for over 60 years. But from now on, Sprite available in plastic bottles will be clear instead of green, which makes it easier for recycling purposes. The new design is set to start production August 1.
The green Sprite bottles are made of the same type of plastic as other soft drink and water bottles, polyethylene terephthalate (PET). However, colored bottles are often separated from clear bottles during the recycling process to avoid discoloration making new PET bottles. Green bottles have been recycled into products, but its material “is more often converted into single-use items like clothing and carpeting that cannot be recycled into new PET bottles,” according to the company’s official statement.
“Taking colors out of bottles improves the quality of the recycled material,” said Julian Ochoa, CEO, R3CYCLE, which is working with Coca-Cola to make old bottles into new ones, or recycled PET (rPET) bottles. “This transition will help increase availability of food-grade rPET. When recycled, clear PET Sprite bottles can be remade into bottles, helping drive a circular economy for plastic.”
Coca-Cola’s other brands that previously came in green bottles, like Mello Yellow, Fresca, and Seagram’s, will also transition from green to clear bottles.
Even though single-use PET and rPET bottles are recyclable, they still take hundreds of years to decompose. This is why more and more companies, including Coca-Cola, have been looking into other plant-based materials in addition to rPET. In October 2021, the company launched a prototype for a 100% plant-based plastic.
The company also added in the statement that its brand of bottled water, Dasani, will now be packaged in bottles made entirely from recycled plastic (excluding caps and labels).
The statement also said that the brand’s transition to rPET is set to save more than 20 million pounds of new plastic compared to 2019, which would cut more than 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in 2023 alone. In 2021, the company’s global manufacturing sites produced an estimated 5.49 million metric tons of GHG — a 5% increase from the year before, according to Statista. Coca-Cola also produces an estimated three million tons of plastic packaging annually.
It’s a small step in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work to do in terms of mitigating the climate crisis.