Sprite is changing from green to clear bottles to boost recycling

Coca-Cola is switching its Sprite bottles from green to clear PET plastic, which will increase their likelihood of being recycled into new beverage bottles. The transition will begin in August. Other brands packaged in green plastic bottles—including Fresca, Mello Yello, and Seagram’s ginger ale—will shift to clear plastic in the coming months. The company is also transitioning a majority of Dasani water bottles to 100% recycled PET (rPET) plastic. Coca-Cola said the shift would save over 20 million pounds of virgin plastic compared to 2019 and cut more than 25,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2023. 

As Coca-Cola and other beverage makers work to create a circular plastic packaging economy in which all materials are reused or composted, they are seeking ways to boost the availability of food-grade rPET.

The move to transition from green plastic is intended to increase the amount of recycled plastic that can be used for food packaging, Coca-Cola said in its press release announcing the new bottles. The company said that green and other coloured plastics are often remade into single-use items like clothing and carpeting that cannot be recycled into new PET bottles.

Other beverage companies are also invested in increasing the supply of rPET. Last week, PepsiCo announced it was issuing its second green bond to support its Pep+ sustainability agenda. PepsiCo, one of the largest users of food-grade PET in the world, aims to use 50% recycled plastic in its packaging by 2030. It says the 10-year, $1.25 billion bond will help fund the use of recycled materials, enhance recycling infrastructure and boost recycling rates. PepsiCo spent about $375 million of its first green bond on plastics and packaging, mainly through purchases of rPET.