Coke’s New, Semi-Green Bottles

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Last May, Coke announced that it would be making new plastic bottles composed of 30% sugarcane-based materials. Just this week, the new PlantBottle™ finally reached US shelves. But just because Coca-Cola is using Brazilian sugarcane to make part of its bottles, does that mean they’re green?

Using sugarcane does reduce the amount of petroleum put into each 20 oz. bottle, and cuts down on carbon emissions by about 15%, according to a study funded by the company (it’s still awaiting third-party analysis). But, it’s still plastic. Plastic makes up 11% of all municipal waste, and takes hundreds of years to biodegrade in landfills: only 7% of it makes it to a recycling facility. If Coke really wanted to be green, they could cut out plastic all together and only use aluminum cans. Cans are recycled more often (55%) than plastic bottles and can be melted down and converted into new products infinitely, whereas plastic generally only gets one or two more go-arounds, turned into lawn edging or fleece jackets, before it degrades beyond further usability.

But what about the sugarcane? Does it really have to get flown all the way from Brazil? And does it have to come from sugarcane used to make ethanol, rather than the sugarcane already being used to make the sugar and molasses that go into Coke? Without knowing more about Coke’s exact manufacturing and bottling process it’s hard to tell how much the sugarcane’s origins contribute to the final product’s carbon emissions. At least the PlantBottle™ is a (small) step in the right direction. It would be great if Coke could make fully biodegradable, low-emission bottles like these Japanese sake bottles made of squid. Until then, I’ll take a look at the PlantBottle™, but I’ll buy a can.

 

 

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate