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Coca-Cola to transition to 100% R-PET in Great Britain

Highlights

Some 29,000 mt of virgin plastic to be saved each year

Scarcity of R-PET supply a key concern to achieving circularity

Coca-Cola Great Britain will transition its entire range of on-the-go bottles to 100% recycled polyethylene terephthalate from September 2021, according to a press release June 30.

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The move will mean that all 500 ml or less beverage bottles, including Coca-Cola Original Taste, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Dr Pepper and Lilt, will be made from 100% recycled PET and will be fully recyclable by September in Great Britain.

The move is estimated to save around 29,000 mt -- the equivalent of 2,292 double decker buses -- of virgin plastics each year, according to Coca-Cola Great Britain, working in partnership with Coca-Cola Europacific Partners.

Currently, Coca-Cola Great Britain uses around 50% R-PET in its smaller bottles.

"This announcement marks an important step towards our ambition to remove all non-recycled plastic from our bottles, and our global aim to help collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one that we sell by 2025," Jon Woods, General Manager at Coca-Cola Great Britain, said.

With the recycled PET food-grade pellet market, which is predominantly used for beverage bottle production, facing an increasingly tight supply situation across the UK and Europe, some market participants are cautious about companies using more than the European and UK legislation for minimum recycled plastic content requires.

"It's true that one of the key challenges we currently face in Great Britain is that there isn't enough locally available high-quality, food-grade, recycled plastic being produced in the country.

We have worked hard with our suppliers and the wider industry to source more recycled material and have been able to commence this transition to 100% R-PET in our smaller bottles earlier than we had previously anticipated," a spokesperson for Coca-Cola Great Britain told S&P Global Platts June 30.

In the UK, all plastic packaging that does not include 30% recycled content by April 2022 will attract a tax of GBP200/mt ($277/mt).

In Europe, all plastic bottles placed onto the market will need to be made from 25% R-PET by 2025.

UK R-PET food-grade pellet spot prices were assessed at GBP1,455/mt FD UK, the highest price since at least February 2019, when Platts first assessed the market, and GBP105/mt higher than the previous price peak in July 2019.