Posted by Dale Buss on December 16, 2011 01:01 PM
Coca-Cola wants you to know that, sure, it could have waited until its initial 2020 target date to guarantee that its PlantBottles would all be made from 100-percent plant-based materials. The company also wants you to know that it has moved up that timetable by several years. This week the beverage giant announced multi-million-dollar partnership agreements with three biotech companies in an initiative meant to achieve that acceleration.
"At 30 percent [plant-based materials in its bottles already], we already have a commercial solution that we've deployed in 20 countries over the past two years," Rick Frazier, Coke's vice president of commercial product supply, said on a media call on Thursday. "We could have taken several years to refine that to 100 percent [with a new process] and then started a slow rollout. But we chose to make a difference immediately," he added.
Of course, this promise doesn't mean Coke will be able to roll out 100-percent plant-based bottles to consumers by then. Or, as the New York Times notes today, that Coca-Cola will beat PepsiCo, which has espoused ambitious sustainability goals in regard to its plant-bottle technology.
"To double our business in a sustainable way over the next decade," Frazier told reporters, "we must find a new way of doing more with less and in some cases entirely disrupt our current practices."
So Coke set up a horse race among the three companies to accelerate commercial development of a 100-percent solution. Coke already has distributed more than 10 billion first-generation PlantBottles in 20 countries worldwide and has lent the technology to H.J. Heinz for its own PlantBottles.
"For years we've known how to produce 100-percent plant-based bottles in the lab," Frazier explained to brandchannel and other outlets. "But we didn't know if the technology actually could operate on a scale required to meet the global demands of our business in over 200 countries."
Now, it's up to the three partners — or at least one of them — to prove that Coca-Cola's new bet is right.