While the June 5 announcement that Coca-Cola, Ford, Heinz, Nike and Procter & Gamble are partnering to develop and use plant-based PET plastics in their products might be motivated more by economics than eco-friendliness, on the surface it looks like a good corporate social responsibility move, and part of a larger sustainability trend. "This partnership highlights the growing trend of bringing the principles of sustainability together with new product development, via collaboration," says Susan Nickbarg, principal, SVN Marketing, a marketing and CSR/sustainability consultancy.
As the price of crude oil rises, companies are looking to cut back on petroleum-based products, including bottles, apparel, footwear, automotive fabrics and carpets. While PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is durable and lightweight, it is still petroleum-based. The five companies are looking to develop PET plastics that are 100% plant-based, which don’t require the use of crude oil. Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle initiative currently uses packaging material derived from sugar cane, notes the Los Angeles Times.
While the initiative could save on manufacturing costs, the announcement does serve up a good environmental vibe. From that point of view, the timing for Coca-Cola is good considering New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal last week to ban the sale of big sugary drinks from the five boroughs. Which might beg the question from skeptics: Was this partnership announcement a good PR response to Bloomberg, or just a coincidence?
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