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ATLANTA -- In a major bid to boost its sustainable business practices, Coca-Cola said yesterday it is investing more than $60 million to build the world's largest plastic-bottle-to-bottle recycling plant and support recycling in the U.S.
The world's largest beverage company said these investments are part of a comprehensive goal to recycle or reuse 100 percent of its PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles in the U.S.
"We have set an ambitious goal to recycle or reuse all the plastic bottles we use in the U.S. market," said Sandy Douglas, president off Coca-Cola North America, in a statement. "Our investments in recycling infrastructure, coupled with our work on sustainable package design, will help us reach this target."
The Coca-Cola Co. and United Resource Recovery Corporation (URRC) will build the world's largest plastic bottle-to-bottle recycling plant in Spartanburg, S.C. The plant will produce approximately 100 million pounds of food-grade recycled PET plastic for reuse each year -- the equivalent of producing nearly two billion 20-ounce Coca-Cola bottles, according to the beverage company.
"The long-term sustainability of our business depends on our ability to ensure the sustainability of our packaging," said Douglas. "This new recycling facility represents a significant milestone as we work to advance recycling in the U.S. and ensure a strong end-market for our PET packaging."
The 30-acre Spartanburg plant will open in 2008 and will be fully operational in 2009. Coca-Cola also has invested in recycling facilities in Switzerland, Mexico, Austria, and the Philippines.
Coca-Cola said recycling plastic for reuse yields financial benefits, requires less energy than producing bottles with virgin materials, and reduces waste and greenhouse gases. Over the next 10 years, the Spartanburg recycling plant is expected to eliminate the production of one million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions - the equivalent of removing 215,000 cars from the road.
Coca-Cola said it has been focused on PET recycling and reuse since introducing the first beverage bottle made with recycled material in 1991. Since then, the manufacturer has worked with URRC and other partners to accelerate the development and commercialization of environmentally-efficient and sustainable recycling technologies throughout the world. Today, Coca-Cola uses recycled content in more than 17 countries, including the United States.