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Coca-Cola HBC invests €12 million to bring returnable glass bottles to market

Coca-Cola HBC has opened a new high speed returnable glass bottling (RGB) line at its plant in Edelstal, Austria.

The milestone €12 million investment was supported by a €4 million grant from the Austrian government as part of its fund for beverage companies and retailers to enable a true circular economy for packaging.

The new line, which is more water and energy efficient, will produce an innovative 400 ml returnable and resealable glass bottle for the Austrian market. This is a first across the company’s 29 markets and is aimed at the on the go market and at home consumption.

The investment is part of Coca-Cola HBC’s plan to achieve net zero emissions across its entire value chain by 2040.

The company has already reduced Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by 30% in the last 12 years. As packaging accounts for 34% of Scope 3 emissions in its total supply chain, it is a key component of its carbon emissions reduction pathway.

The new line significantly expands the range of returnable products in the portfolio to include Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar in a 400 ml glass bottle.

Consumers can also buy Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Fanta Orange and Sprite in one litre returnable glass bottles. The universal one litre bottle design for different sparkling soft drink brands helps simplify production and logistics and reduces the sorting and reverse logistics in the market.

This expansion of returnable packaging is in response to growing consumer demand for returnable packaging solutions in Austria, where 62% of consumers value sustainability when they are selecting products.

Expanding this packaging type also helps customers meet quotas for returnable packaging in retail, which are due to be introduced by 2024.

Coca-Cola HBC Austria is a first mover when it comes to expanding reusable packaging and minimising plastic across the company’s markets. Other developments include the following:

  • Piloting Compact Freestyle drinks dispensing machines. These offer consumers packaging free options of 40 beverage choices with up to 70% less emissions compared to PET.

  • Austria is one of the first Coca-Cola HBC markets to transition to 100% recycled PET bottles for products produced locally for sale in Austria. It has also introduced KeelClip, a solution that replaces shrink wrap packaging with cardboard for multipack cans.

  • KeelClip is now live in all 22 EU markets, saving approximately 2600 tonnes of plastic from the supply chain in 2022. Coca-Cola HBC is also piloting other innovations aimed at removing plastic film.

Coca-Cola HBC CEO, Zoran Bogdanovic, explains how investment, innovation and partnerships are supporting the company’s roadmap to its net zero by 2040 goal while also contributing to a circular economy for packaging.

‘For some years now, Coca-Cola HBC Austria has been at the forefront of pioneering new sustainable solutions, and we are delighted that our focus on investment, innovation and partnerships are helping us to meet our goal of delivering our drinks in more sustainable ways,’ he said.

‘Austria is already one of our fastest growing markets for reusable packaging and this new line will further accelerate this packaging type, which is in demand by our customers and consumers alike. As returnable packaging options offer a reduced carbon footprint, this new line in Austria further supports our net zero by 2040 goal.

‘We are grateful for the partnership with the Austrian government as we work together towards a common goal of a greener business model and a better environment.’


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