In a continuing bid to reduce the amount of plastic used in their packaging, Coca-Cola has announced that it will phase out shrinkwrap on multi-can packs across Europe by the end of 2021, replacing it with minimal cardboard toppers KeelClip, made by Graphic Packaging International.
The change is a first in the non-alcoholic ready-to-drink (NARTD) market, according to Coca-Cola and follows a previous investment in the plastic-free can carrier of €14 million in The Netherlands by Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) and Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (HBC).
The KeelClip toppers are made of renewable and recyclable materials and can get applied at high-speeds suitable for the beverage industry.
The carton toppers also present an opportunity for additional branding, keep cans together safely, and are easy-to-carry.
And how do they work?
According to Joe Franses, vice president of sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners, “Innovation is a key principle of our sustainable packaging work and the application of this fully recyclable paperboard KeelClip, which comprises a top board that the cans clip into and a central cardboard ‘keel’—similar to a ship’s keel—that stabilizes the pack, is another example of how we are delivering on our commitment to remove all unnecessary and hard to recycle single-use plastic from our products.”
The new carriers will get rolled out first by CCEP, which they announced earlier this year, and will serve consumers in Andorra, Belgium, continental France, Germany, Great Britain, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden. Coca-Cola (HBC) will begin rolling out the KeelClip carriers in early 2020, starting with Ireland and Poland, following with Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and Romania later in the year. With all EU countries served by the end of 2021, they predict they will remove nearly 6,000 tonnes of plastic from both markets.
“The KeelClip technology is effective for can multi-packs of various diameters and heights,” said Steve Gould, new product development and marketing director for the Graphic Packaging International beverage division Europe, via an announcement. “This means that we can provide a safe, effective package with no need for secondary plastic. When businesses such as Coca-Cola HBC and Coca-Cola European Partners invest in these technologies, we can really make a difference to the way we package goods and drive the industry to continue to change too.”