• Coca-Cola PlantBottle

Coca-Cola PlantBottle (Photo : YouTube)

Coca-Cola will be unveiling a 100 percent natural, biobased PlantBottle at the Expo Milano 2015. The litter-free "PlantBottle 2.0" containers could hit store shelves as game changers five years later.

After introducing its first PlantBottle in 2009, the soda king has been working to improve and expand the technology. Klaus Stadler, head of Coca-Cola Europe's Environmental Sustainability, says that the company's goal for 2020 is for PlantBottle technology to be used for its entire supply of virgin polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

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At a recent conference in Germany, Stadler said that his company is the "world's largest" user of bioplastics. It makes up "60 percent" of Coca-Cola's packaging.

Stadler noted that both recycling and bioplastics can help to solve the problem of littering. Within time the company hopes to use packaging from materials that are entirely recycled and renewable.

Several of Coca-Cola's core brands already use PlantBottle 1.0 packaging  whose sources are 30 percent from renewable materials. They originate from sugar cane produced in Brazil.

How about the other 70 percent of PET? Coca-Cola is working with Virent and Gevo to develop a bio purified terephthalic acid (PTA).

While Coca-Cola will showcase its 100% PlantBottle 2.0 at Expo Milano 2015, it will be five to eight years until it is available in commercial amounts, according to Plastics Today. It will reach "price parity" by 2018, equaling the price of producing current Coca-Cola packaging.

An alternative would be to produce the PlantBottle with polyethylene furanoate (PEF). The cost is still higher than PET, so for now it will only be used for certain applications.

One of the biggest issues Coca-Cola is facing is increasing new technologies' scales so they can be applied commercially. Other problems include EU agricultural laws, taxes, and duties.

Since the 2009 launch of its PlantBottle packaging, as of November 2014 Coca-Cola had distributed over 2.5 billion bottles in nearly 40 countries, according to 3BL Media.