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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
Coca-Cola Removes Labels from Sprite Bottles to Simplify Recycling

Labels will be replaced with an embossed logo on Sprite and Sprite Zero 500ml rPET bottles as part of a UK trial designed to reduce use of packaging materials.

Coca-Cola has temporarily removed labels from Sprite and Sprite Zero on-the-go bottles in a limited trial of “label-less” packaging.

The pilot will see labels temporarily from single 500ml Sprite and Sprite Zero replaced with an embossed logo on the front of the pack, with laser-engraved product and nutritional information appearing on the back.

“We want to help create a future where plastic drink packaging will always have more than one life,” said Dusan Stojankic, VP of Franchise Operations for Great Britain & Ireland at Coca-Cola Great Britain. “Labels contain valuable information for consumers; but with the help of technology, we can now trial other ways to share this information while reducing the amount of packaging we use. Going label-less might seem like a small step, but it is one of several ways we are exploring making recycling easier, minimizing waste, and minimizing the impact of our packaging on the environment.”

While existing labels are fully recyclable, removing them simplifies the recycling process — it eliminates the need to separate them from the bottles during the recycling process and reduces the amount of packaging material used overall.

Shoppers are being invited to try out the new, limited design — which is being sold at eight Tesco Express stores in Brighton and Hove, Bristol, London and Manchester between January and March 2024.

Like existing Sprite packaging, the clear, 100% recycled PET bottles feature green and transparent attached caps (not currently made from recycled plastic) identifying them as Sprite or Sprite Zero, respectively.

“The trial is a milestone for the industry — it’s the first time these two technologies have been used in a pilot where a Coca-Cola product will appear in a label-less, single-unit bottle sold in-store,” said Javier Meza, VP of Marketing for Coca-Cola Europe. “Although the design change may sound simple, this is a big shift from a marketing perspective. This trial could contribute to longer-term changes to the way brands communicate with their consumers.”

In recent years, Coca-Cola has introduced a number of 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; introducing attached bottle caps to ensure 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.

“It’s clear that — as a society — we need to reduce, reuse and recycle more, and waste less,” said Allison Ogden-Newton, Chief Executive of Keep Britain Tidy. “Everyone, including businesses, need to be part of the solution. We welcome this exciting and innovative trial.”