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Coca-Cola trialling innovative drink dispensing system as part of drive to reduce packaging

| Innovation and technology

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) is testing a new generation of ‘smart’ fountain dispensers in partnership with the University of Reading as part of its commitment to reduce the amount of packaging used for its products.

The new ‘Coca-Cola Freestyle’ machines use refillable containers that are micro-chipped to interact with the dispenser technology. This allows students and staff at the university to buy all their soft drinks in reusable bottles, so reducing their packaging footprint.

The bespoke refillable bottles can be purchased at the university, giving users access to refills throughout the ten-week term. Students will have access to over 100 drinks from a range of well-known brands such as Coca-Cola Classic, Diet Coke and Fanta, as well as free drinking water. Students will also be able to try drinks and flavour variants within the business’s global portfolio that are not available in UK stores.

The bottles contain RFID tags to directly interact with the Validfill dispensing technology. As well as ensuring that payment has been made, the technology also allows CCEP to track how many times the refillable bottle is used and which drinks are most popular.

CCEP and the University of Reading will be monitoring the impact the scheme has on recycling and littering of soft drinks packaging at the sites where the machines are installed, and will be gaining feedback from users of the refillable bottles.

Nick Brown, Head of Sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners GB, commented: “As well as supporting a more sustainable packaging system on campus, the trial will allow us to explore consumer behaviours and attitudes towards refillable bottles, with the goal to help students and staff across the university to reduce their personal packaging footprint.

“As an industry leader in drinks manufacturing and supply, we value our work with organisations that share our ambition towards a more sustainable future, and we look forward to seeing how the programme develops over the coming months.”

Matt Tebbit, Catering and Bars Manager at the University of Reading, added: “Around 650,000 plastic bottled drinks are used on our campuses each year, so this partnership will help the University to reduce this considerably.”

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