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Coca-Cola scores Olympic recycling success

UK – Coca-Cola collected 10.5 million of the 17 million plastic bottles that were sold during the 2012 Olympic Games in London, thereby creating a total of 42 million green bottles, avoiding 290 tonnes of waste going to landfill and saving the emission of an estimated 310 tonnes of carbon, the major brand states.

Originally, around 20 million drinks bottles were expected to be collected during the event. This would have resulted in the creation of 80 million new plastic bottles, each containing 25% rPET. According to Coca-Cola, visitors ultimately recycled only around half the number of bottles as had been anticipated because, most likely, they accidentally discarded them in regular waste bins.

Coca-Cola’€™s Head of Sustainable Games Katherine Symonds has pointed out to BusinessGreen: ‘€˜There is no dress rehearsal for an event like the Games so our estimates were always just that.’€™ Nevertheless, she added, the rPET objective was achieved after all.

According to Mrs Symonds, this is a success that would not have been possible if not for the Continuum joint venture and its recycling facility ‘€“ in which Coca-Cola and ECO Plastics have invested around £15 million (US$ 24 million). Both parties claim that by sending all the plastics to this plant, they were processed ‘€˜on the fast track’€™ such that remanufacturing occurred within a six-week time-frame.

This six-week target was promoted to raise consumer confidence about the benefits of recycling, says Ms Symonds. Some UK residents still believe that a certain amount of waste sent for recycling ends up in landfill any way, she points out.

She concludes: ‘€˜Before Continuum was built, two thirds of plastic waste was being shipped overseas to be recycled. Now only one third is going overseas. When a trusted brand like Coke comes forward and says ‘€œleave it to us, we’€™ve got it under control’€, and then it’€™s back on the shelf within six weeks, it gives people a great sense of reassurance.’€™

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