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Coca-Cola Discontinues Sprite's Green Bottle to ‘Improve Quality’ of Recycled Material

The company launched its World Without Waste initiative in 2018

After more than 60 years, Sprite will no longer be sold in green bottles.

The Coca-Cola Company, which makes the lemon-lime soda, is swapping the iconic bottle for a clear plastic alternative which the company says is more likely to be recycled.

“Taking colors out of bottles improves the quality of the recycled material,” Julian Ochoa, the CEO of R3CYCLE which is working with the beverage company to upgrade its largest American bottler, said in a statement. “This transition will help increase availability of food-grade rPET. When recycled, clear PET Sprite bottles can be remade into bottles, helping drive a circular economy for plastic.”

PET, or polyethylene terephthalate plastic, is commonly used in food packaging but takes hundreds of years to decompose, per NPR. Because Sprite’s green bottles could not be reused for food-grade packaging, the recycled bottles were previously repurposed for clothing and carpets.

“Demand for rPET currently exceeds supply, so the first step to scaling up use of 100% rPET across our portfolio is building a sustainable pipeline of high-quality material,” said Coca-Cola’s senior vice president of technical innovation and stewardship Chris Vallette.

The new Sprite bottles will also feature the message “Recycle Me” prominently displayed on the packaging. Production of the new clear plastic bottle will begin on Aug. 1.

In 2021, the company released a clear, 13.2ounce bottle of Sprite – a smaller version of its traditional green packaging – in certain parts of the United States.

Coca-Cola North America will ultimately move all its beverages packaged in green plastic bottles to clear plastic bottles. This includes drinks like Fresca, Seagram’s and Mello Yello.

The company says the move is part of ongoing efforts to support environmentally-driven business practices.

DASANI, Coca-Cola’s bottled water brand, has already pledged to remove roughly 2 billion virgin plastic bottles from production by 2027. The brand’s aim is to switch to 100% recycled plastic bottles this summer with the aim of using packaging materials that are made from at least 50% recycled material by 2030.

Coca-Cola estimated that the environmental effort will lead to a 20 million pound reduction in its use of newly produced plastic compared to 2019. The changes are part of the company’s “World Without Waste” initiative which was launched in 2018.

“The world has a packaging problem – and, like all companies, we have a responsibility to help solve it,” said James Quincey, President and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, per BevNet

He called World Without Waste an investment in the planet that would make unsustainable packaging practices a “problem of the past.”

“Bottles and cans shouldn’t harm our planet, and a litter-free world is possible,” Quincey said. “Companies like ours must be leaders. Consumers around the world care about our planet, and they want and expect companies to take action. That’s exactly what we’re going to do, and we invite others to join us on this critical journey.”

According to Rock Hill Coca-Cola, Sprite was originally created in 1959 in West Germany as part of the Fanta line. The drink was originally known as Clear Lemon Fanta. The soda was released in the United States under the name Sprite in 1961. The beverage’s popularity was almost instantaneous and by 1967 it was being sold in 39 countries.

Sprite’s traditional bottles were green with a dimpled texture, which represented the bubble from its carbonation.

As of 2019, Sprite was available in 190 countries and came in 17 additional flavors.

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