Research estimates that nearly 8 million metric tons of plastic enter our ocean every year. While some of that is now being cleaned up thanks to efforts like the Ocean Cleanup Project, there’s still the continual cycle of new plastic bottles being produced that can end up in the sea.
Coca-Cola is taking a big stride to close that loop with a novel bottle that’s made from the plastic that has been recovered from the ocean.
The new bottles aren’t 100% made from the recovered plastic, but they still represent a significant effort towards making beverage containers that are completely fabricated from that material. Coca-Cola just announced that in terms of current progress, the samples they’ve made have a composition that includes 25% ocean plastic. The particular material they used was recovered from the Mediterranean Sea and several beaches.
A process called “enhanced recycling” is responsible for making these bottles possible. In that method, impurities in plastics are removed that allow them to go back to being useable from a food grade standpoint. Companies like Ioniqa Technologies, Indorama Ventures, and Mares Circulares (Circular Seas) worked with Coca-Cola to make this initial effort possible.
While the technology may still be in its infancy, Coca-Cola is going to push it to scale, hoping to release the first batches of bottles made (at least partially) with the recycled ocean debris sometime next year. In doing so, they’ll be making a concerted effort to stop adding to the plastic bottles that already make their way into the world’s oceans.