With winning shelf space at supermarkets and convenient stores a hyper-competitive challenge for consumer packaged goods companies, one way to get a product into a store is to provide a temporary store display. We have all seen them–they tout a new product line, promote a contest, or showcase an athlete who is endorsing the product.
What happens to those temporary store displays, which are generally cardboard, after they completed their duty is an open question. No reliable statistics explain how many are recycled and how many end up in a dumpster and then landfill. One beverage company, however, has decided to make more of an effort to prevent those mounds of cardboard from ending up as trash.
Coca Cola has launched a series of 100% recyclable merchandise display racks for use in both grocery and convenience stores. The racks have a few purposes. One function is to communicate to consumers that Coca-Cola is taking sustainability more seriously. Another goal is to make the display cases easy to recycle: they are made out of corrugated cardboard.
Furthermore, rather than relying on store managers to recycle or dispose of the temporary shelving, Coca-Cola employees will round them up. The objective is to nudge Coca-Cola and its distributors toward a closed-loop retail program where such materials are recycled, or even better, reused.
The recyclable display cases are another example of how the beverage industry can and are doing more to prove to their stakeholders that they are taking issues related to sustainability seriously. For years the focus was on recycling, with consumers and retailers expected to do the work. That has changed. Coca-Cola, for example, has set goals to optimize the energy and water used its products’ packaging, sources more of its plastic from recycled or renewable material, and has introduced a bottle in part made from plant based materials. The company also parters with NGOs to work on water issues in countries in which water scarcity has become a threat, and recently has tackled how its operations affect and could confront poverty.
The racks are currently undergoing testing in a few markets and will be rolled out by the end of this year, and the some additional displays will be made from recycled PET bottles. Coca-Cola claims that its plants divert 90% of its waste from landfills and recovered 400 million pounds (180 million kilos) of cans and bottles in the USA last year. Nevertheless more can be done in both the supply chain and the value chain, so the reusable and recyclable displays are a step in the right direction.