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The Coca-Cola Company’s GIVE IT BACK Racks

The Coca-Cola Company’s GIVE IT BACK Racks

Shoppers and Trends

May 29, 2011

Over the last few decades, Americans have become more focused on recycling. In fact, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the recycling rate increased from less than 10% of generated solid waste in 1980 to almost 34% in 2009. Similarly, the disposal of waste to landfill has decreased from 89% of the amount generated in 1980 to about 54% in 2009.

With consumers getting on board the recycling train in greater numbers each year, it makes sense that food industry members are doing so as well. From encouraging the proliferation of reusable bags to improving energy efficiency in-store, retailer efforts toward sustainability span the gamut. Now, The Coca-Cola Company is taking things a step further by introducing a family of 100% recyclable merchandise display racks for use in grocery and convenience stores through the U.S.

Made of corrugate material, these GIVE IT BACK® racks are completely recyclable and, following use, can be recovered, reused, or recycled by The Coca-Cola Company. The racks are the first step in a comprehensive, closed-loop retail equipment program.

“We are helping both our manufacturers and our customers create more sustainable practices, while demonstrating our commitment on this front,” says Karyn Froseth, Director, Shopper Marketing Capability for Coca-Cola Refreshments. “This closed-loop system will allow us to create, install in retail outlets and then recover, recycle and reuse these displays, thus significantly decreasing the waste from merchandise display racks and ultimately improving the chances our displays will not go to landfills.”

The intent for the GIVE IT BACK rack is to remind customers, shoppers and consumers to do their part to help the environment. So in this way, the purpose of the rack is two-fold – to help customers implement more sustainable practices and then also to encourage consumers to recycle the packaging they purchase from the racks. Reinforcing recycling – or upcycling – is part of an ongoing commitment to sustainability, says Froseth. 
“Upcycling allows for the reuse of materials that would normally be considered waste in an aesthetically appealing way. With the advances in upcycling, retailers and manufacturers can now focus more on sustainability without fear that consumers will find the reuse of recycled materials unattractive. For example, three key design principles guided the development of the GIVE IT BACK rack – that the overall form should be alluring, the material finish should communicate sustainability in an elegant manner and the brand messaging zones should be well integrated and flexible,” says Froseth. “Upcycled products don’t have to look recycled.”

Froseth hopes retailers and manufacturers will begin to see waste as a resource, and that upcycling will become more prevalent as companies see innovations like the GIVE IT BACK rack. More than 70% of shoppers, consider the environment and social well-being when making a purchase. At Coca-Cola, she says, they look at every aspect of their business to help make those decisions easier for consumers, and she believes other companies will do the same.

“The Coca-Cola Company has taken a leadership position on this sustainable merchandising equipment program – including materials guidance and our system’s commitment to recovering and recycling the merchandising equipment. We also are helping customers implement more sustainability practices,” she says. “And we hope other companies follow suit.”

Initially being tested in select markets, the new stand-alone racks are expected to become widely available in late 2011. The Coca-Cola Company is currently working to determine the savings in terms of carbon footprint. As to cost savings, says Froseth, the corrugate racks will generally cost the same or less than current displays used in a similar capacity. The corrugate racks are the first in a family of recyclable displays coming from Coca-Cola, including one made entirely of recycled PET plastic.

“Coca-Cola is serious about sustainability. The GIVE IT BACK rack is another proof point of our drive to be a leader in this area. Everything from our delivery trucks, to our packaging and product displays has been taken into account. The technology required to manufacture the GIVE IT BACK rack did not exist initially, and we challenged our manufacturer to create that technology. We will continue to encourage this kind of innovation in the future,” adds Froseth.