Coca-Cola fast-tracks collection and recycling of PET bottles across Africa

Bruno Pietracci, President of Coca-Cola Southern & Eastern Africa outlined Coca-Cola Company’s campaign to accelerate the collection and recycling of PET plastic in the region. He announced that along with bottling partners and other industry partners across Southern & East Africa, the company will invest over US$38 million over three years to stimulate plastic recycling industries and educate people about what, how and where to recycle.

In South Africa, PET plastic recycling is primarily driven through the PET Recycling Company (PETCO), which was established in 2004 with the help of industry players and The Coca-Cola Company. It’s been said to be a success with 67% of all PET bottles collected and recycled in SA. This has created over 65,000 new income opportunities in the recycling sector.

In 2018, with industry partners, Coca-Cola helped to launch the PETCO model in Kenya: 1,800 tonnes of PET bottles were collected and recycled in 2018, compared to 867 tonnes in 2017. The target is to accelerate this to 20,000 tonnes this year, and also to launch the PETCO model in Ethiopia and Uganda.

Locally, the company’s goal is to ensure that 50% of their primary packaging is made from recycled content by 2030. This will help to reduce the use of new (virgin) PET and help to close the loop on creating a green circular economy. Currently, all Coca-Cola PET bottles in South Africa contain up to 25% of recycled PET (rPET) and later this year, the aim is to launch a new bottle under the Bonaqua brand made of 100% rPET.

Another way to reach recycling goals is through education and marketing.

In addition, later this year, colour packaging (green bottles to start with) will be removed from some of the company’s brands. This is because clear or blue PET has more end-use applications by the recycling industry. Collectors also receive more money for clear or blue PET plastic than coloured.

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