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May 29, 2024

Philly-area Coke bottler forgoes plastic bottle carriers in favor of recyclable cardboard

Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages' switch to paperboard carriers is estimated to replace 200,000 pounds of plastic rings yearly.

Business Coca-Cola
liberty coca-cola carrier Provided Image/Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages

Philly-based Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages will now distribute multipacks of beverage bottles in recyclable paperboard carriers (above) instead of plastic ring packaging.

A Philly-area distributor of Coca-Cola products is ditching the signature plastic rings that hold together six-packs in favor of carriers they claim are better for the environment. 

Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages has begun packaging its multipack bottled beverages in recyclable paperboard carriers, and they are starting to appear on store shelves, the company announced Wednesday. The company has a production facility and distribution center in Philadelphia and serves restaurants, stores and retailers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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The paper-based packaging that Liberty Coca-Cola is using was developed by WestRock, a provider of sustainable paper and packaging solutions. The equipment to implement new technology was installed at the Philadelphia plant earlier this year. The carriers are now being used for the packaging of Coca-Cola products sold in multipacks of 12-ounce and 16.9-ounce bottles.

The new packaging will replace an estimated 200,000 pounds of plastic rings each year. Liberty Coca-Cola distributes Coke products, including Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, Dasani, Fanta, Minute Maid, Monster Energy, Powerade, Sprite, Vitamin Water and Fairlife. 

Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages is the first beverage distributor in the world to implement WestRock's type of paperboard packaging. The company joins major brands, like Coors Light and Corona, that also have switched to more eco-friendly packaging in recent years. While other companies may turn to different types of cardboard or even edible and biodegradable rings made from barley and wheat, the goal is similar — to reduce plastic pollution and lessen the risk of wildlife being harmed by plastic rings.

carriers liberty coca-colaProvided Image/Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages

A top view of Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages' new sustainable packaging for multipack bottles.

"We are proud of the strides we are making to significantly invest in technology that produces recyclable beverage containers and to be more sustainably innovative," Fran McGorry, co-owner of Liberty Coca-Cola, said in a release "With the WestRock collaboration, we are able to be industry leaders and make this change."

Liberty's new packaging system will add to the distributor’s recent sustainability efforts. It added cardboard packaging for mini-cans in 2022, becoming the first bottler in the United States to replace plastic rings for mini-cans. Liberty was also among the first Coca-Cola bottlers in the U.S. to use bottles that, except for the cap and label, are made from 100% recycled plastic.

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