Coca-Cola UK trials system to reduce soft drink packaging

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has launched a new initiative with the University of Reading aiming to reduce the amount of packaging used for its products.

The programme combines a new generation of smart Coca-Cola fountain dispensers –known as Coca-Cola Freestyle machines with refillable containers – image courtesy of Coca-Cola

The packaging programme combines a new generation of smart Coca-Cola fountain dispensers –known as Coca-Cola Freestyle machines with refillable containers.

The containers are micro-chipped to interact with the dispenser technology, allowing students and staff to buy all their soft drinks in reusable bottles.

This refill system will help people to reduce their own packaging footprint.

The bespoke and customisable refillable bottles, manufactured by Whirley-Drinks Works, can be purchased at the University, giving users access to refills throughout the ten-week term.

Students will have access to over 100 drinks from a range of well-known brands such as Coca-Cola Classic, Diet Coke and Fanta, including low and zero calorie variants, caffeine free and still drinks.

Students will also be able to try drinks and flavour variants within the business’ global portfolio that are not available in GB stores. Options for single pour and limited refills are also available.

The bottles contain RFID (radio frequency identification) to directly interact with Validfill dispensing technology.

As well as ensuring that payment has been made, this technology will also allow CCEP to track how many times the refillable bottle is used and which drinks are most popular.

CCEP and the University of Reading will be monitoring the impact the scheme has on recycling and littering of soft drinks packaging at the sites where the machines are installed, and will be talking to students and staff about their experiences of using refillable bottles.

The programme forms part of the University’s commitment to reduce its environmental impact, under which it has cut carbon emissions by more than one third. The University has said it will monitor patterns of drinks consumed during the trial.

Nick Brown, head of sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners GB, said: “We’re hugely excited to have joined forces with the University of Reading on this project.

“As well as supporting a more sustainable packaging system on campus, the trial will allow us to explore consumer behaviours and attitudes towards refillable bottles, with the goal to help students and staff across the university to reduce their personal packaging footprint.

“As an industry leader in drinks manufacturing and supply, we value our work with organisations that share our ambition towards a more sustainable future, and we look forward to seeing how the programme develops over the coming months.”