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Coke Plans to Open P1 Billion Facility That Can Recycle Plastic Bottles Infinitely

You can even start wearing more plastic soon.
IMAGE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/STRATWORKS
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Plastic waste has become a huge global issue and the Philippines has been identified as one of the biggest culprits. We can trace the problem to several factors, such as the tingi mentality where consumers purchase necessities in affordable sachets because they can't afford to buy them in bulk. 

Another is the mindset of convenience in the form of plastic takeaway containers and bottles, both of which are used even by those who can afford to buy snazzy food and beverage holders.

Creating an endless loop of redesign. Through its World Without Waste initiative, Coca-Cola aims to create a circular economy where packaging is collected, recycled, and given limitless lives in the form of eco-bricks, chairs, clothing, and more.
Photo by STRATWORKS.
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Exploring Green Technologies. World Without Waste event attendees experience the Coke TuneCycle, a bicycle that shreds PET bottles to create the PET flakes used for eco-bricks.
Photo by STRATWORKS.

Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines (CCBPI), the bottling arm of Coca-Cola in the Philippines, is investing in a P1-billion next-gen, state-of-the-art, food-grade facility in the country as part of its World Without Waste initiative. According to Gareth McGeown, president and CEO of CCBPI, the facility will transform used recyclable PET plastic bottles into new and useful beverage bottles again.

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The recycling facility will collect, sort, clean, and wash post-consumer recyclable plastic bottles. Then, the bottles will be turned into pellets that can be made into items of value. This is especially applicable now when many manufacturers are looking into going green. Apparel companies, for example, are creating new clothes and shoes out of old plastic fibers.

A song for a better world. Coke Studio Season 2 artist, Quest, shares his inspiring songs at the Coca-Cola World Without Waste event.
Photo by STRATWORKS.
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The collection challenge

The aim, ultimately, is to improve the country’s recyclable plastic collection and recycling rates and consequently reduce ocean plastic leakage. The 100-percent recyclable PET bottle can become something of value as it will now have limitless use and can generate collection jobs.

Juan Lorenzo Tañada, director for corporate and regulatory affairs of CCBPI, says that Filipino collection workers are among those with the worst working conditions. “Aside from reducing plastic waste, our goal is to give our collectors better livelihoods and dignity to a job that is critical in protecting the environment,” he adds.

Building community-based collection systems. Coca-Cola partners with sari-sari store owners to help collect their packaging. Photo shows (from left) Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines, Inc. Director for Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Atty. Juan Lorenzo Tañ
Photo by STRATWORKS.
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Pioneering in sustainable packaging. Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines, Inc. (CCBPI) Director for Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Atty. Juan Lorenzo Tañada, CCBPI President and CEO Gareth McGeown, Coca-Cola Philippines President and General Manager Winn Ev
Photo by STRATWORKS.

    

The goal is to collect every bottle sent out. This is similar to the successful initiative done with glass bottles, the ones that we used to return to our school canteens to collect a deposit. These are still in use in the provinces today.

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Jonah de Lumen-Pernia, public affairs and communications director of Coca-Cola Philippines, reports how, in 2018, the company had green activations at its events and the concerts and fiestas it was part of. There, company workers collected each bottle, making sure that 4,000 kilograms of plastic did not end up in our seas. “These can be recycled into 350 school chairs or 1,000 benches,” she adds.

With the 100-percent recyclable bottles, there won’t be a need to make new resin again, and these will also be an opportunity for exports that use recycled plastic pellets.   

Winn Everhart, president and general manager of Coca-Cola Philippines shares, “We see our packaging as a valuable resource and not waste. It is therefore unacceptable to us that our packaging ends up in places where it shouldn’t be. With our primary packaging in the Philippines being 100-percent recyclable, we see the potential of capturing its value by creating new and better approaches toward reprocessing and recycling recyclable plastic.” 

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Investing in a sustainable future. Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines, Inc. President and CEO Gareth McGeown presents the Company’s progress in its sustainability efforts.
Photo by STRATWORKS.

Circular economy

The zero-waste term du jour is circular economy, which means the products are designed to be renewed, reused, repaired, or upgraded in order to preserve resources. It’s not just about consuming less waste but it is also about managing that waste, so that everything that is produced and consumed can be returned safely to nature or society, instead of ending up in oceans and landfills.

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According to Pernia, in order for that to happen, the government and private sector should work together to come up with systems that will foster this. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution, we recognize we cannot do this on our own so we are working with one community at a time, one partner at a time,”  he says.

Shifting to a circular economy. Coca-Cola Philippines President and General Manager Winn Everhart explains the Company’s World Without Waste vision of closing the loop by collecting and recycling the equivalent of each of the PET bottles and aluminum cans it sells by 2030.
Photo by STRATWORKS.
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To make a world without waste happen, it has to go full circle: products are recyclable, there are more efficient production and manufacturing processes, there are proper collection and diversion, and, most important, people are more inclined to recycle, repair, and reuse instead of just throwing things away. 

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