Coca-Cola is replacing plastic wrap on its multipacks of cans in Europe with a new cardboard packaging called KeelClip.
The beverage giant is planning to introduce the minimalist paperboard packaging from next year in Ireland, the Netherlands, and Poland, with the roll-out across all its European markets complete by 2021.
Coca‑Cola European Partners (CCEP) pledged in October to remove all unnecessary or hard to recycle plastic from its portfolio.
Coca‑Cola collaborated with Graphic Packaging International - which developed KeelClip technology - to bring the product to market.
According to the company, which will invest $15 million into implementing KeelClip, the move will save an estimated 2,000 metric tons of plastic and 3,000 metric tons of CO2 annually.
"This new type of packaging not only replaces the plastic wrap, but also minimizes the amount of paper and card required," said Coca-Cola.
"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," added Joe Franses, Vice President, Sustainability for Coca‑Cola European Partners (CCEP).
The announcement follows Coca-Cola being named the top plastic polluter in a recent report by environmental organization Break Free From Plastic.
BRANDED Volume II: Identifying the World's Top Corporate Plastic Polluters, listed Nestlé and PepsiCo in second and third place.
The organization conducted 484 beach cleanups in more than 50 countries in September, collecting a staggering 11,732 pieces of plastic from Coca-Cola products - more than the second, third, and fourth-worst polluters combined.
'Plastic pollution crisis'
"This report provides more evidence that corporations urgently need to do more to address the plastic pollution crisis they've created," Von Hernandez, global coordinator at Break Free From Plastic, said.
"Their continued reliance on single-use plastic packaging translates to pumping more throwaway plastic into the environment. Recycling is not going to solve this problem."
'Unacceptable to us'
Following the publication of the report, a Coca-Cola spokesperson told The Intercept: "Any time our packaging ends up in our oceans – or anywhere that it doesn't belong – is unacceptable to us.
"In partnership with others, we are working to address this critical global issue, both to help turn off the tap in terms of plastic waste entering our oceans and to help clean up the existing pollution."
The spokesperson added that by 2030, it aims to 'recover 100 percent of the cans and bottles we use so that none of our packaging ends up as waste and all of our bottles and cans are recycled and used again."