A Tale of Two Plant Bottles: Coca-Cola and Pepsi

Pepsi PlantBottle - photos.prnewswire.comJust as Coca-Cola releases their plant-based bottle packaging to Canadians this past month, Pepsi puts out a news release stating that they will be launching their own plant-based bottle (link here).   The news release does not indicate whether Pepsi’s plant bottle will be available in Canada right away in 2012, but it is likely a North American rollout rather than just the United States.   Since Coca-Cola already debuted their plant bottle for their core products last year at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, it appears that Pepsi has been lagging on the topic of sustainable packaging.  But what the public did not know is that Pepsi already has a variety of products made using sustainable packaging, such as the Aquafina ‘Eco-Fina’ bottle and the Naked ‘reNEWable’ bottle.  The only thing lagging from Pepsi’s end is having a plant-based bottle with their own logo on it rather than a water or juice logo.

So is there any difference between the two different plant bottles, technology or recyclability or otherwise?  While the traditional recyclable plastic bottles are made using fossil fuels such as petroleum, Coca-Cola’s plant-based bottle materials for both Dasani and Odwalla are made through a process that turns sugarcane into a key component for PET and HDPE plastic.  This process reduces emissions and ultimately produces the plant bottle that looks like a regular plastic bottle.  Pepsi’s plant-based plastic bottle goes through a similar process that turns the inputs into PET and HDPE plastic, except it sources different materials; Pepsi will turn switch grass, corn husks, and pine bark (and expand to include orange peels, potato peels and other bio-based products from their food business) into the PET and HDPE plastics used for the bottle packaging.

Despite the “ground-breaking” news that each company released about using plant-based materials to produce their plastic bottles, it’s ultimately the same technology save for different material inputs.  The good thing is that the world’s two largest beverage manufacturers are mindful of their impact on the environment and have taken steps to reduce their emissions while refreshing their customers in the process.

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