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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Coca-Cola set to start Spartanburg recycling plant on Jan. 14

By Trevor Anderson - The (Spartanburg) Journal-Herald

Worldwide soft-drink company Coca-Cola is ready to blow the lid off of its new recycling plant in Spartanburg County.

According to company spokeswoman Kirsten Witt, Coca-Cola will open the doors to the "bottle-to-bottle" recycling facility at 5396 N. Blackstock Road on Jan. 14.

The plant, said to be the largest of its kind in the world, will produce about 100 million pounds of food-grade recycled polyethylene terephthalate plastic for reuse per year, or the equivalent of about 2 billion 20-ounce plastic Coke bottles.

Over the next 10 years, the Spartanburg plant is expected to eliminate the production of 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions - the equivalent of removing 215,000 cars from the road.

Coca-Cola announced the $60 million investment in September 2007, saying it was part of the company's long-term initiative to have 100 percent of its plastic bottles be recycled or reused.

The project is in partnership with Spartanburg-based United Resource Recovery Corp. and includes the new facility on a 30-acre site as well as a recycling center that collects used beverage containers.

"We have set an ambitious goal to recycle all the plastic bottles we use in the U.S. market," Sandy Douglas, president of Coca-Cola North America, said in a statement. "Our investments in recycling infrastructure coupled with our work on sustainable package design will help us reach this target."

For Spartanburg County, the plant is expected to create about 100 jobs over the next five years and has the added bonus of making the county a centerpiece for many of Coca-Cola's global recycling initiatives.

On Jan. 15, the facility will host a satellite media tour that will be broadcast to news outlets all over the world.

During the broadcast, Kate Krebs, director of sustainable resources for The Climate Group, a leading recycling advocacy organization, and Scott Vitters, director of sustainable packaging for Coca-Cola, will talk about how to recycle and why it's important.

"Coca-Cola has staked a clear leadership position in its approach to suitable packaging," Krebs said in a statement. "The new Spartanburg plant represents an end-to-end recycling model that is world-class and that I hope other industries will follow."

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