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Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle at the Olympics

In an article titled ‘Green message in a bottle’, the Globe and Mail reports today that, “To replace traditional petroleum-based plastic bottles, Coca-Cola has come up with the ‘PlantBottle’, a plastic bottle in which 30 per cent of the material comes from sugar cane and molasses.”

“The innovation left Coca-Cola wondering how to use the Vancouver 2010 Olympics to shine a light on packaging it wants to eventually use around the world.”

“Ahead of the Vancouver Olympics, the packaging is being marketed in video promotions along the torch-relay route. At the games, the company plans to use a portion of a Coca-Cola pavilion to detail the benefits of the new bottle and other green initiatives.”

“The potential benefit, (Professor Alan Middleton, a marketing professor at York University) said, is increased green credibility among young people, who are ever-more attuned to the sustainability message. This demographic – 13-to-29-year-olds – is Coca-Cola’s most important market. In previous research, the company discovered it had a big reputation problem on the green front.”


Coca-Cola plans to sell 7.5 million beverages at the Winter Olympic Games.

It has been reported that it takes 2.5 litres of water to make one litre of Coca-Cola. Vandana Shiva has stated that it takes nine litres of clean water to make one litre of Coke. Then there is as much as 250 litres of water used once growing the sugar cane used in the drink is factored in.

For bottled water, it takes three to five litres of water to produce a one-litre plastic bottle. With the PlantBottle still 70% petroleum-based plastic, and 30% plastic made from sugar (which can use 5 megalitres of water per hectare to produce) and molasses (a viscous byproduct of the processing of sugar cane or sugar beets into sugar), there is still a considerable amount of water use required for the bottle.

Multiply the above figures by just the 7.5 million beverages Coke intends to sell at the Olympics, and Coke clearly fails any ‘environmental call to action’ with respect to water use.

For a other blogs on the PlantBottle, go here. The Globe and Mail article is at http://www.globeinvestor.com/servlet/story/GAM.20091117.RCOCACOLA17ART1926/GIStory/.