Coca-Cola made headlines in 2009 when it introduced the PlantBottle, a beverage bottle made from petroleum-based materials and 30% plant-based materials. The company's ultimate goal has been to make a 100% plant-based bottle—but now PepsiCo has beaten it to the punch.
PepsiCo, who's in the middle of a big SXSW Interactive push (did we mention that?) also announced this week that it has figured out how to make fully recyclable, 100% plant-based bottles from switch grass, pine bark and corn husks. Eventually, the company plans to use oat hulls, potato and orange peels, and a variety of other agricultural by-products from its Quaker and Tropicana brands.
The company's plant-based bottle has a molecular structure that is identical to petroleum-based PET (polyethylene terephthalate)—meaning it looks and feels exactly like any other PET container.
Scott Vitters, global head of sustainable packaging for Coca-Cola, tells Fast Company that the company's 100% plant-based bottle is on the horizon. "Our work is not about whether or not it's possible. We know we can do it," he says. "The real step is figuring how to make it sustainable in the market." That means building a supply chain that uses diverse feedstocks found in local markets.
In any case, Vitters says, Coke isn't concerned about Pepsi's plans. "They're looking at how you test [the 100% plant-based bottle] to learn how to scale it up."
Coke already has 2.5 billion of its 30% plant-based bottles on the market, while Pepsi won't begin pilot production of its new bottle until 2012.
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