Coca-Cola's switch to plant-based bottles not as green as may be thought

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

You may have heard and seen the news that Coca-Cola is increasing its production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) made with plant-based glycol instead of petroleum-derived glycol. In the language of sustainability, this would be described as replacing a non-renewable feedstock with a renewable feedstock.

In some ads it has been claimed by Coca-Cola that their bottle is 100% plant based but when anyone looks at the bottle itself it says up to 30% plant-based plastic. That, in my book, is not 100%.

While plant-based PET sounds very green, doesn't it, it, in fact, is not for it is still PET, that is to say polyethylene terephthalate, no more no less. And it is a PET now, that does have a mix of oil-based and plant-based plastic, making is more difficult to recycle, according to some sources. There’s no easy way (yet) to separate the different constituents and put them in their respective preferable recovery systems.

Even if they would be making PET entirely from plant-based materials (which is not truly possible today, considering all the catalysts and polymer chemistry whatsits that are not made from plants), the PET would still be an inherently non-biodegradable material.

If we really want plant-based plastic then we must (1) ensure that it can be recycled and (2) better still that it actually would be compostable, albeit in commercial composters rather than the backyard compost heap.

Despite the fact that someone from the company has been threatening me should I continue telling the truth about their plant-based PET not being as green as they are painting it I will continue to do so.

Greenwash is greenwash regardless of who is doing it and Coca-Cola does not have a good record as far as the environment is concerned.

So, don't let anyone fool you and research everything you are told...

© 2012