Beverage giant Coca-Cola recently unveiled a prototype for its first-ever paper bottle, the first step in the company’s goal to create a bottle that can be recycled like any other type of paper product (h/t Food Navigator).
This first-generation prototype, for which Coca-Cola partnered with paper bottle company Paboco, still contains some plastic. Coca-Cola explained in a blog post that the prototype is made up of a paper shell with a plastic closure and plastic liner. Though the liner and closure are made from “100% recycled plastic that can be recycled again after use,” the company says its next step is to create a bottle that does not need the plastic liner.
The world’s plastic problem is now considered one of the biggest environmental threats out there, with an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the oceans alone. Big Food (and Bev) is under pressure to come up with more sustainable packaging options for their products.
Even so, any bottle containing a CPG beverage has to adhere to certain standards around safety and storage capabilities of packaging, hence the reason Coca-Cola can’t immediately switch to using just any paper bottle. The company says it is currently “putting the bottle through comprehensive testing in the lab to see how it performs in the refrigerator, how strong it is, and how well it protects the drink inside.”
The paper bottles won’t be available on grocery store shelves any time soon, but Coca-Cola’s prototype is another step in that direction. It follows efforts from Coke competitor PepsiCo and spirits brand Diageo, both companies that plan to release paper bottles in 2021.