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  • Writer's pictureDavid Baker

Coca-Cola bottler leads the move away from plastic aluminum can packaging

Biodegradable cardboard will replace plastic rings

In what is being hailed by many as a “first of its kind” move, a Philadelphia-based bottling company is switching from the so-called “six-pack” plastic rings featured in most packs of soda cans in favor of a cardboard version that is recyclable.

Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages, a Pennsylvania plant which bottles Coca-Cola products ranging from Diet Coke and Sprite to Powerade and Monster Energy, has replaced its plastic rings with a fiber-based paper packaging. The move is intended to help alleviate the dangers of plastic rings which have long been a topic of concern among conservationists and marine biologists.

It is well documented that when these rings find their way into the ocean, they can endanger birds, mammals, turtles, and other marine life, due to their ability to get stuck around animals’ noses, mouths, and bodies. In fact, it has been estimated that plastic products kill around 100,000 marine animals a year.

These rings also add to the growing threat of ocean trash. A 2021 study found that around 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year, an issue made worse by the fact that plastic can often take hundreds of years to biodegrade.

Already used on six-packs across Europe, Liberty estimates that its new policy will help eliminate 75,000 pounds of plastic each year. The paper-based packaging because it is small, compact, and easy to recycle.

Calling the move the “first of its kind” in the United States, Liberty expects the packaging to be seen on soda cans throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York in the coming months.

Why It Matters. Everyone agrees that plastic packaging is bad for the environment. In fact, it is literally an unsustainable method of delivering products to consumers. If plastic packaging is not changed to an eco-friendlier model, then it will eventually consumer the planet. But there are other important considerations for companies such as Coca-Cola to remember when considering a shift away from plastics.

Traditional packaging materials, such as plastic and Styrofoam, have a negative impact on the environment. They are non-biodegradable, take up valuable space in landfills, and can release harmful chemicals when they break down. Eco-friendly packaging, on the other hand, is made from sustainable materials and is designed to minimize waste and pollution.

As consumers become more environmentally conscious, they are increasingly seeking out products with eco-friendly packaging. Offering eco-friendly packaging can be a way for businesses to attract and retain customers who are concerned about the environment.

Eco-friendly packaging can also lead to cost savings for businesses. For example, using recycled materials can be less expensive than using new materials, and reducing packaging waste can lead to lower disposal costs.

And, from an intellectual property and branding perspective, adopting eco-friendly packaging can also improve a company's brand reputation. Businesses that prioritize sustainability and environmental responsibility are seen as socially responsible and may be more attractive to investors and consumers.

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