Coca-Cola is working to create a bottle made 100% from paper — an innovative packaging technology that may help the beverage brand to achieve a World Without Waste. (View the video link below to see the progress.)

Imagine a world where each and every piece of packaging produced and sold is also collected and recycled after use - a World Without Waste. That’s our stated goal: we aim to collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one we sell by 2030, while also substantially reducing our use of virgin packaging materials, and only using packaging materials that are 100% recyclable.

It will take continuing investment in innovation, exploration of different technologies and, crucially, partnership and collaboration to get there. This is fundamental to our approach, across both the collection and recycling of our packaging but also its design. 

As part of this, we have been working to explore the concept of a paper bottle with our partner, Paboco, and the three other companies in the Paboco Pioneer Community. And we are now at the stage of a first-generation prototype ready that we believe can play a part in helping to achieve our goal of a World Without Waste.

Virtual visit the Coca-Cola lab in Brussels, where Stijn and his team are working on the paper bottle prototype:

“Our vision is to create a paper bottle than can be recycled like any other type of paper, and this prototype is the first step on the way to achieving this. A paper bottle opens up a whole new world of packaging possibilities, and we are convinced that paper packaging has a role to play in the future,” says Stijn Franssen, EMEA R&D Packaging Innovation Manager at Coca-Cola, who is working on the project.

A lot of work still must be done to achieve this vision of a recyclable paper bottle. The first-generation paper bottle still contains some plastic.

“This first-generation paper bottle prototype still consists of a paper shell with a plastic closure and a plastic liner inside. The plastic we use is made from 100% recycled plastic that can be recycled again after use. But our vision is to create a paper bottle that can be recycled like any paper. The next step is to find a solution to create a bottle without the plastic liner,” Stijn says.

Just like other types of packaging, a paper bottle of the future must adhere to the same high safety and quality standards for food packaging that currently apply. Stijn and this team are putting the bottle through comprehensive testing in the lab to see how it performs in the refrigerator, how strong it is, and how well it protects the drinks inside.

“We also reflect on how our consumers will react to this paper bottle. Topics like when and where it could be sold and how it can be recycled are all considered. The bottle must be explored from every perspective to ensure that we make the bottle the best it can be,” says Stijn.

He is optimistic that future technological solutions will help achieve the vision of a paper bottle that’s recyclable as paper – a type of packaging technology that can be part of Coca-Cola's packaging and portfolio mix, and which could be used for a wide range of beverages.