Sprite Goes Naked

Photo: Coca-Cola

An important update for Sprite in the UK. The Coca-Cola Company will temporarily remove labels from Sprite and Sprite Zero on-the-go bottles this January in a limited trial of “label-less” packaging. The pilot will see labels temporarily removed from single 500ml Sprite and Sprite Zero bottles and replaced with an embossed logo on the front of the pack. Laser-engraved products and nutritional information will appear on the back of the pack. Shoppers at selected Tesco Express stores in Brighton & Hove, Bristol, London, and Manchester can see our ‘naked’ bottles on shelves between January and March.

In recent years, Coca‑Cola has introduced several design changes to help reduce packaging waste, including turning Sprite bottles from green to clear plastic to make them easier to recycle back into bottles. It has also introduced attached caps to its bottles, ensuring that the cap stays connected to the bottle after opening to reduce the potential for littering; and invested in new designs to reduce the amount of packaging it uses, such as creating lightweight bottles and reducing the materials used in external packaging.

Although bottle labels can be recycled, according to the firm, taking them off will mean that labels don't need to be separated for recycling. The company Coca-Cola claims that the removal of the labels saves 2.8 kg of CO2e for every 1,000 bottles they make, but the plastic savings are quite small roughly 2% of the total weight. 

Furthermore, only 500ml bottles of Sprite and Sprite Zero both of which have prominent branding on their bottles will be included in the test program. Of course, bottlecaps are another way for consumers to identify themselves for regular Jane Sprite and clear for Zero.

The naked bottles, which are part of Coca-Cola's World Without Waste initiative, which aims to recycle one bottle or can for every one sold by 2030 and lessen the company's packaging footprint, will only be available for purchase in eight Tesco Express locations until March of this year.

It's true that the bottle looks stylish and looks good on any drink cooler. Naturally, the label, or lack thereof is not the issue. The bottle itself is the issue. We are discussing a single-use plastic bottle here, after all.

In the statement, Coca-Cola acknowledges that it "has a responsibility to help solve the world's packaging waste problem." But let's not get ahead of ourselves here just taking off the label won't cut it and will make you feel, well, ridiculous. Moreover, quite greenwashy.

We ought to start with a few advantages in the interest of fairness. Coca-Cola should take part of the credit for a few things, like moving from green to much easier-to-recycle clear bottles, which enhances the possibility that the bottle will be recycled into something new. In Scotland and the UK, attached caps are an excellent method to guarantee that every plastic scrap is recovered and reused. Removing or lightening a label.

However, these are the absolute minimums. It's a fantastic thing to encourage more people to recycle. Nonetheless, the UK recycles about 44% of its plastic garbage, making it a far better nation than the rest of the globe. In the United States? That percentage is currently at 5%, and it won't go down unless this nation passes a nationwide EPR law.

To demonstrate its commitment to a waste-free planet, Coca-Cola might declare that it will be switching 25% of its plastic packaging to aluminum. That represents a real decrease in single-use plastic. Aluminum is infinitely recyclable, has a substantially greater capture rate, and supports a viable circular economy. Plastic is unable to. No matter how many plastic lobbyists try to convince you differently, that cannot be disputed.

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