Can Dr. Pepper build a better bottle?
Plastic, aluminum and sometimes glass containers are what everyone is used to seeing in the soda aisle. One major name in consumer packaged goods, however, is looking to create a new soda bottle more sustainable than anything that has appeared on the shelves so far.
Keurig Dr. Pepper is developing a compostable, recyclable paper bottle that it plans to pilot in the U.S., according to Consumer Goods Technology. The bottle is to be made of fiber and organic materials, rather than, for instance, the polymer-lined paper packaging associated with milk cartons. The bottle, label, cap and closure can all be easily composted or recycled alongside other paper products. The manufacturer plans to pilot the bottle later in 2022 as a container for juices, water and carbonated beverages.
Plastic waste from products like soda bottles has been identified as a major source of pollution, with the total amount of plastic manufactured since the 1950s weighing in at 9.1 billion tons, according to Smithsonian. Less than one-tenth has been recycled, 12 percent has been incinerated (causing its own environmental impact) and the rest has ended up in landfills. Scientists have been working on biotech solutions to address the problem, such as engineering enzymes capable of digesting plastics.
Keurig, which acquired Dr. Pepper Snapple Group in 2018, has itself been criticized as a big-time environmental offender. The brand’s “K-cups,” originally launched for home use in 2004 after becoming popular in offices, have gained notoriety for becoming such a large source of single-use plastic that even the K-cup’s inventor has expressed some regret for creating it.
The company began producing what it purported to be recyclable K-cups, but it recently settled a 2018 lawsuit that questioned the product’s claim to recyclability.
The allegation, according to Lexology, says K-cups’ “recyclable” labeling is misleading, as few or no facilities are set up to actually recycle them and they often end up in landfills. The company settled for $10 million.
Keurig Dr. Pepper is not the only soda manufacturer that has been bubbling about sustainability.
In 2021, Coca-Cola announced it was making some of its sodas available in 100 percent recyclable plastic bottles in 25 markets.
- Keurig Dr Pepper To Pilot Compostable Paper Bottle – Consumer Goods Technology
- The Future of Recycling May Be in Microbes – Smithsonian
- Keurig Dr Pepper’s first week post-merger brings a defection, an acquisition and new volleys in coffee wars – CNBC
- Can edible packaging help solve retail’s eco problem? – RetailWire
- Keurig Settles K-Cup Recycling Claims – Lexology
- Endlessly Refreshing: Coca-Cola North America Rolls Out Bottles Made from 100% Recycled PET Plastic – Coca-Cola
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Would a fully compostable paper bottle represent a magic bullet for sustainability? Do you think next-gen sustainable packaging will become table stakes for competing in CPG?