Coca-Cola, UK university partner to reduce packaging waste

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The bottles contain RFID to directly interact with Validfill dispensing technology

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has launched a new initiative in partnership with UK’s University of Reading, to reduce the university’s 650,000 packaging waste annually. 

The programme combines a new generation of smart Coca-Cola fountain dispensers –known as Coca-Cola Freestyle machines – with refillable containers that are micro-chipped to interact with the dispenser technology, allowing students and staff to buy all their soft drinks in reusable bottles. 

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 including well-known brands such as Coca-Cola classic, Diet Coke and Fanta, said CCEP on 9 Oct. 

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

The technology, in addition to ensuring that payment has been made, allows CCEP to track the number of drinks bought and their popularities. 

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. 

“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,” said Nick Brown, head of sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners GB. 

According to Matt Tebbit, catering and bars manager at the University of Reading, around 650,000 plastic bottled drinks are used at the university’s campuses each year. 

In addition to reducing waste, said Tebbit, the new drinks machines “will cut traffic around campus and carbon emissions as refill cartridges can be delivered by courier rather than lorries.”

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