CPG Marketing Trends: Coca-Cola Continues Development of PlantBottle Packaging

Coca-Cola recently launched three multi-million-dollar partnership agreements with several biotechnology firms to continue their commercial development of the next-generation PlantBottle packaging. The company is hoping to move their global supply chain to the 100-percent plant-based packaging by 2015.

This is not the first time Coca-Cola has developed renewable packaging. In 2009, they introduced the first-generation PlantBottle. These were the first recyclable PET beverage bottles made from 30 percent plant-based material. It has been estimated that the first-generation PlantBottle packaging saved the equivalent emissions of more than 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide in the first two years of use.

Coca-Cola is hoping these three new partnership agreements will help them support their long-term commitment to sustainable practices in sourcing and packaging supply.

Odwalla juices already use a fully recyclable plastic bottle made from 100-percent plant material for their packaging. This type of HDPE (high-density polyethylene) is the perfect packaging for juice products, but is not appropriate for carbonated beverages.

This is not the first time a CPG brand has attempted to go green with their packaging. In 2009, Frito-Lay tried to get on the bandwagon for environmentally friendly packaging and introduced a biodegradable SunChips bag. The new packaging was made from plant materials and was said to be 100% compostable.

However, after only 18 months, Frito-Lay took the packaging off the shelves after receiving a great deal of consumer backlash saying the bag was too noisy. Some consumers even compared the sound of the crinkling bag to lawnmowers and jet engines. Sales for SunChips declined more than 11 percent after the introduction of the new bag. Frito-Lay listened to consumers and returned SunChips to their original, quieter, non-recyclable packaging.

As the demand for green packaging continues to grow, are you willing to conduct the necessary research to avoid consumer backlash? How far would you go to convert your current packaging to 100-percent environmentally-friendly packaging?


Brad is an expert in private label and challenger brand food marketing for Barkley, an integrated marketing and advertising agency. He specializes in working with manufacturing-driven food companies that have aspirations to develop a consumer insight-led strategies to help drive innovation and growth.

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