Coke's Recycling the Real Thing

Innovative technology reduces Coca-Cola's plastic usage by 40%

By Sheany
Thursday, June 15, 2017

Coca-Cola, the world's largest producer of sugary beverages, recently launched a new production line in Indonesia that makes high-quality, lighter bottles, which will reduce the company's plastic usage by more than 800 tons annually.

"The Coca-Cola Company is the first to use this technology in sparkling soft drinks. The line in Indonesia is the second in the world for sparkling soft drinks," Coca-Cola Indonesia technical director Stewart Edmed told reporters on Tuesday (13/06).

The Affordable Small Sparkling Package (ASSP) production line reportedly cost $21 million. Coca-Cola and German packaging company KHS collaborated to develop the technology, which reduces plastic usage in the production of PET-based bottles.

PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate, a common polyester used in clothing and liquid and food packaging.

The ASSP technology for sparkling soft drinks was first implemented in India.

The new production line in Indonesia is at Coca-Cola's factory in Cikedokan, West Java, which has a capacity of producing 188,000 bottles per hour.

"[The] ASSP technology is part of our sustainability commitment to the environment," said Grant McClean, technical manager at Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia.

Coca-Cola Amatil is one of two Coca-Cola companies operating in Indonesia. It is responsible for the production and distribution of Coca-Cola products.

According to McClean, Indonesia was chosen as the second market for the new technology because of the time and distance required to distribute Coca-Cola products in the archipelago.

The ASSP technology allows Coca-Cola to keep its products fresh, light and affordable, increasing overall efficiency while also promoting sustainable packaging.

"For us, waste prevention is not merely reducing packaging materials [...] Coca-Cola's long-term vision in sustainable packaging is to significantly impact our scale and resources to contribute to the circular economy," said Triyono Prijosoesilo, public affairs and communications director at Coca-Cola Indonesia.

Triyono was referring to a regenerative system – an alternative to the traditional linear economy of making, using and disposing – in which resources are kept for use as long as possible, extracting their maximum value in an effort to continuously regenerate natural and social resources.

Plastic Waste in Indonesia

Indonesia produces around 64 million tons of waste per year, with around 14 percent comprised of plastic-based materials.

The country was listed as the second-largest marine polluter in a 2015 study led by Jenna Jambeck of the University of Georgia and published by the journal Science.

"We can see that the plastic waste situation in Indonesia is extraordinary; we can find plastic on bodies of water or obstructing various infrastructure," said Gabriel Soedarmini Boedi Andari, a professor in the University of Indonesia's engineering faculty.

Globally, more than 39 percent of plastic is used for packaging. Therefore, innovations that focus on reducing plastic in packaging processes can help companies contribute to building a more sustainable world.

Andari said a reduction in the use of plastic should be the primary focus when it comes to reducing waste overall, as production is one of the early stages that can improve waste management.

"Coca-Cola's move to reduce the amount of PET plastic is extremely positive and responsible; an example of what an industry can do to manage its waste," Andari said. She added that she hopes other industries that use PET for packaging will adopt similar technologies.

This article first appeared on the Jakarta Globe website on June 13, 2017.

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