Coke Plans Plastic Recycling To Appease Ecological Concerns
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Coca-Cola Co. said on Wednesday that it was investing more than $60 million to build a plant to recycle and reuse nearly 2 billion 20-ounce bottles a year in an effort to counter growing environmental opposition to the beverage industry.
The Spartanburg, South Carolina, plant will open next year and be fully operational in 2009. Coke said this would be the largest plant in the world to make new plastic bottles out of old ones.
The world's largest soft-drink maker said the move was part of a larger goal to recycle or reuse 100 percent of the plastic bottles it uses in the United States. The bottles contain polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, a nonrenewable resource made from natural gas and petroleum.
The announcement comes a day after the Atlanta-based company introduced a curvy 20-ounce bottle with 5 percent less PET, for its cola drinks in the United States. A spokesman said the company anticipated expanding the lighter bottle to other brands, such as Fanta and Sprite.
"We have set an ambitious goal to recycle or reuse all the plastic bottles we use in the U.S. market," Sandy Douglas, president of Coca-Cola North America, said in a statement. "Our investments in recycling infrastructure, coupled with our work on sustainable package design, will help us reach this target."
Coke has also invested in recycling facilities in Switzerland, Mexico, Austria and the Philippines.
Critics charge the beverage industry adds plastic to landfills and uses too much energy by producing and shipping bottles across the world.
Political and environmental opposition has grown in recent months, with several U.S. mayors taking action to try to eliminate bottled water.
(Reporting by Martinne Geller)