Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages will replace plastic rings for its multipack bottled beverages with WestRock’s paperboard carrier and aspires to cut an annual 200,000 pounds of plastic from its footprint.

Local to Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York City, Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages is set to be the first bottler in the world to roll out WestRock’s PETCollar Shield Plus paper-based bottle clip solution. The multipack carrier will be applied to 355ml and 500ml bottles of Coca-Cola’s top brands at Liberty’s production facility in Philadelphia and sold in its multi-state territory.

With the new paperboard carrier packaging system expected to be fully installed and operational by the summer of 2024, it is set to complement Liberty’s existing paperboard packaging for mini-cans. These packaging systems combined are hoped to replace 200,000 pounds of plastic every year.

PETCollar Shield Plus falls under WestRock’s PETCollar range of multipack clip solutions for bundled bottles. Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages intends to pursue its own sustainability goals by adopting the carrier.

“We’ve made it our mission to invest in technology that produces recyclable beverage containers that can return to our system while significantly reducing the need for secondary plastic packaging,” said Fran McGorry, co-owner of Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages. “We know the most valuable change to reduce plastic waste occurs when bottlers and packaging producers work together. We are proud to partner with WestRock to make this change.”

“Our partners at Liberty Coca-Cola continue to push the boundaries by promoting secondary packaging alternatives to plastic throughout their operations while meeting the diverse needs of their consumer base,” added Sam Shoemaker, president of Consumer Packaging at WestRock. “We share their commitment to innovation and look forward to supporting their ambitious sustainability goals.”

“We are passionate about making investments in the communities we serve,” concluded Paul Mulligan, co-owner of Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages. “We truly care about the environment, and we will continue to invest in systems that raise the bar for the entire industry. We want to lead by example and do the right thing.”

The development comes after PepsiCo Beverages North America announced the rollout of paper-based alternatives to plastic rings for multipacks across the US and Canada. The new packaging is said to be both recyclable and made of recycled materials.

Additionally, Coca-Cola HBC, Krones, DS Smith, and Mondi’s collaboratively-designed LitePac Top – a cardboard and paper alternative to plastic shrink film – is being piloted for 1.5-litre multipacks of Coca-Cola, Fanta, and Sprite sold in Austria. The transition is anticipated to result in a 200-tonne reduction in plastic every year.

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