Sprite on-the-go bottles go label-less in debut UK trial

Coca-Cola has initiated a limited trial of “label-less” packaging for Sprite and Sprite Zero on-the-go bottles.

The pilot will see labels temporarily removed from single 500ml Sprite and Sprite Zero bottles and replaced with an embossed logo on the front of the pack. Laser-engraved product and nutritional information will appear on the back of pack.

While existing labels are fully recyclable, removing them simplifies the recycling process. It removes the need to separate them from the bottles during the recycling process, and reduces the amount of packaging material used overall.

Shoppers are being invited to try out the new limited design, which will be sold at eight Tesco Express Stores in Brighton and Hove, Bristol, London and Manchester between January and March 2024.

Like existing Sprite packaging, the clear, 100% recycled PET bottles (Sprite and Sprite Zero bottles, excluding the caps, are made from 100% recycled PET) feature green and transparent attached caps identifying them as Sprite or Sprite Zero respectively.

In recent years, Coca‑Cola has introduced a number of design changes to help reduce packaging waste, including turning Sprite bottles from green to clear plastic to make them easier to recycle back into bottles.

It has also introduced attached caps to its bottles, ensuring that the cap stays connected to the bottle after opening to reduce the potential for littering; and invested in new designs to reduce the amount of packaging it uses, such as creating lightweight bottles and reducing the materials used in external packaging.

Dusan Stojankic, VP franchise operations, GB&I at Coca‑Cola Great Britain noted how plastic drink packaging will always have more than one life.

“Labels contain valuable information for consumers, but with the help of technology we can now trial other ways to share this information while reducing the amount of packaging we use,” Stojankic said. “Going label-less might seem like a small step, but it is one of several ways we are exploring making recycling easier, minimising waste, and minimising the impact of our packaging on the environment.”

Javier Meza, VP marketing, Coca‑Cola Europe said the trial is a “milestone” for the industry.

“It’s the first time these two technologies have been used in a pilot globally, where a Coca‑Cola product will appear in a label-less, single-unit bottle sold in-store,” Meza said. “Although the design change may sound simple, this is a big shift from a marketing perspective. This trial could contribute to longer-term changes to the way brands communicate with their consumers.”

James Bull, head of packaging and Food Waste Strategy at Tesco added that one aim of the trial is to help customers minimise the environmental impact of the products they buy, including removing plastic and packaging when possible.

“This trial of label-less packaging by Sprite is a great example of how brands are innovating to provide those solutions,” Bull said.

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