Coca-Cola opens ‘green’ bottling plant

11 July 2011

Coca-Cola South Africa has opened a new state-of-the-art plant to bottle Valpre Spring Water in Heidelberg, south-east of Johannesburg, introducing the environmentally friendly PlantBottle packaging to the African market for the first time.

Selected for its close proximity to markets and distribution sites in the Guateng region, and a similar source water profile as Valpre’s, the new plant will help Coca-Cola meet the needs of the increasing demand for bottled water.

“The opening of the new Valpre plant in Heidelberg, and the launch of PlantBottle, supports government’s mandate to create infrastructure, develop skills, increase the number of woman in the workforce and ensure sustainable development,” Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said at the launch last week.

“It is a notable example of the kind of development that we encourage all South African industries to adopt.”

Recyclable PET plastic

The plant will make use of Coca-Cola’s innovative PlantBottle packaging, which has revolutionised the beverage industry as the first-ever recyclable PET plastic beverage bottle, made from up to 30% plant material and is 100% recyclable.

PlantBottle packaging has a lighter footprint on the environment due to its reduced dependence on non-renewables such as petroleum.

South Africa is only the 10th market to launch the bottle in the world, and the first in Africa.

Greening the bottling industry

South African National Bottled Water Association executive director Charlotte Metcalf said both the plant and new bottle significantly advance the bottling industry’s green strategy.

“With the new Heidelberg plant, Valpre will reduce its carbon footprint, lower its water usage ratio, adopt energy efficient lighting and production technologies, and boost its solid waste recovery – all while providing its market with a sustainable product packaged in a bottle that takes a giant step towards using renewable resource,” Metcalf said.

The new Valpre plant is undergoing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification – an internationally recognised programme that is the accepted benchmark for design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.

The design of facility maximises recycled materials and makes optimal use of water and solar energy. It has a “zero to landfill” target.

Empowering women

In addition to the environmental aspects of the plant and the new PlantBottle, the Heidelberg plant is run by a team of black women operators.

In 2010, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent announced the company’s “5 BY 20” campaign to empower five-million women by 2020. This is one of several programmes in South Africa to meet this challenge.

“When we set out in 2009 to build this state-of-the art plant, we did so with the goal of ensuring that the plant reinforced all that The Coca-Cola Company and Valpre Spring Water stand for . unwavering quality and commitment to the sustainability of our environment and communities,” said Coca-Cola South Africa president Bill Egbe.

SAinfo reporter

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