Coca-Cola, Changchun Meihe and UPM Cooperate to Commercialize Next-Generation Biomaterials

Significant Milestone in Commercial Viability and Availability of Plant-Based Plastic from Sustainably Sourced Wood to be Made Available to Entire Industry

Technology for Plant-Based Monoethylene Glycol (bMEG) Co-Developed through Partnership Between Coca-Cola and Changchun Meihe Science & Technology; Construction of Full-Scale Biorefinery by UPM Now Underway

Drives a Shift from Crude Oil-Based Materials to Alternative, Renewable Solutions that can be Used Downstream Through a Partnership from Coca-Cola and UPM

The Coca-Cola Company, Changchun Meihe Science & Technology and UPM today announced the first planned commercialization of technologies to efficiently convert second-generation biomass to plant-based monoethylene glycol (bMEG).


This next-generation technology marks a significant step forward toward commercializing a process that is not only more efficient than current bMEG technologies but is based on feedstock that cannot be used as source of food: hardwood taken from sawmill side-streams and forest thinnings as part of sustainable forest management. Monoethylene glycol (MEG) is one of the major components in polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is used for plastic beverage bottles. The new technology marks the most significant advancement in the commercial viability of bioplastics since The Coca-Cola Company introduced the first-generation technology in its PlantBottle™ packaging in 2009. 


Co-owned and co-developed by Coca-Cola and Changchun Meihe, and now being scaled to commercial quantities by the Finnish forest-based bioeconomy leader UPM, the technology to produce bMEG takes a sugar source and removes the step of creating ethanol as part of the conversion process to produce plant-based MEG. This means the process is simpler than incumbent processes and provides flexibility in feedstock choice. 


First validated at demonstration scale in 2017, this combination of technologies will power a full-scale biorefinery currently being constructed by UPM in Leuna, Germany. This first-of-its kind biorefinery will produce plant-based monoethylene glycol (bMEG), plant-based monopropylene glycol (bMPG), as well as lignin-based Renewable Functional Fillers (RFF) made from 100% certified hardwood taken from sawmill and other wood industry side-streams. UPM’s investment will enable a shift from fossil raw materials to renewable alternatives in a large number of consumer end uses. The biorefinery will ramp up production in 2023 with a total annual capacity of 220,000 tonnes.  The products will have a significantly improved CO2 footprint and can be seamlessly integrated in existing material recovery and recycling streams while meeting product performance requirements.   


Further to The Coca-Cola Company’s earlier announcement that it will be making its PlantBottle™ technology available to others in the industry, the two companies announce today that UPM will be offering commercial quantities of these breakthrough biochemicals to anyone in the industry, including direct competitors to Coca-Cola.


The commercialization of this technology marks a significant milestone not only in the evolution of renewable glycol production but also more widely in the development of fossil fuel-free PET plastic. MEG is one of two molecules necessary to create PET, the other being terephthalic acid (PTA). Investments in the scaling of plant-based, renewable materials like bMEG support Coca-Cola’s ambition and work to reduce the use of virgin oil-based plastics in its packaging, alongside investments to increase the use of recycled content.


“The viability of this next-generation biomaterial is a significant technological breakthrough in our ongoing efforts to reduce our use of virgin oil-based plastics, by increasing our use of recycled and renewable alternatives. It can not only help us achieve our commitments to carbon emission reduction but can also enable the entire industry to shift to a more circular economy,” said Nancy Quan, Chief Technical and Innovation Officer at The Coca-Cola Company. “It takes years of work to bring a technology from the lab to the market, reflecting our keen focus on developing and delivering sustainable packaging solutions that can bring tangible environmental benefits, once scaled, to the communities we serve. We’re excited to continue our work with our partners, Meihe and UPM, to bring this technology to a commercial scale for the first time. Through our agreement with UPM, we invite the wider industry to join us by utilizing the material once production has been ramped up at UPM Leuna.” 


UPM is a leader in the bio-based forest industry and aims to create and scale technologies and solutions that provide sustainable alternatives to fossil raw materials, such as biofuels and biochemicals. The biorefinery in Leuna is an important step forward in the company’s strategy to be a forerunner in the bioeconomy, providing renewable biochemicals for use in a number of consumer applications ranging from packaging, textiles through industrial liquids, cosmetics and rubber applications. 


“Investing in the biorefinery in Leuna is a very exciting breakthrough for UPM on our way to becoming a credible player in the chemistry value chain,” said Juuso Konttinen, Vice President, Biochemicals at UPM. “The biochemicals produced in Leuna will enable a true sustainability transformation in numerous consumer applications, providing a dramatically reduced CO2 footprint and replacing fossil raw materials with a renewable alternative: certified and sustainably sourced wood. The decision to commercialize the bMEG technology from The Coca-Cola Company and Meihe was taken after extensive validation and we are excited about the prospect of widely marketing our products based on the agreement with The Coca-Cola Company announced today.”


As part of Coca-Cola’s vision to be net zero carbon by 2050 and its World Without Waste strategy, the company recently announced a goal to use 3 million tons less of virgin plastic from oil-based sources by 2025. To do this, Coca-Cola will invest in new recycling technologies, packaging improvements, new business models and delivery systems, well as the development of new renewable materials. Well-designed technologies that enable the production and scalability of these renewable material will play a key role in achieving that goal.


Daniela Zahariea, Director of Technical, Innovation and Supply Chain at Coca-Cola Europe, said, “In Europe, as we work towards our goal to collect a bottle or can for every one that we sell we are also working closely in parallel with our bottlers to drive down and eliminate the use of oil-based virgin PET from our plastic bottles. We will accelerate delivery of this ambition by increasing the use of recycled content and, as we move forward, also replacing some new ‘virgin’ material that is required with renewable, bio-based sources. That is why we are investing and driving innovation to boost the supply of feedstock from renewable sources, in addition to our focus on sources derived from enhanced recycling technologies.”


About The Coca-Cola Company


The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is a total beverage company with products sold in more than 200 countries and territories. Our company’s purpose is to refresh the world and make a difference. We sell multiple billion-dollar brands across several beverage categories worldwide. Our portfolio of sparkling soft drink brands includes Coca-Cola, Sprite and Fanta. Our hydration, sports, coffee and tea brands include Dasani, smartwater, vitaminwater, Topo Chico, Powerade, Costa, Georgia, Gold Peak, Honest and Ayataka. Our nutrition, juice, dairy and plant-based beverage brands include Minute Maid, Simply, innocent, Del Valle, fairlife and AdeS. We’re constantly transforming our portfolio, from reducing sugar in our drinks to bringing innovative new products to market. We seek to positively impact people’s lives, communities and the planet through water replenishment, packaging recycling, sustainable sourcing practices and carbon emissions reductions across our value chain. Together with our bottling partners, we employ more than 700,000 people, helping bring economic opportunity to local communities worldwide. Learn more at and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Coca-Cola Partners with Global Citizen Live to Defend the Planet and Defeat Poverty

Many of the world’s biggest music artists and activists will take the stage at Global Citizen LIVE in New York, Paris and other global cities across six continents on Sept. 25 to encourage governments, corporations and philanthropists to defend the planet and defeat poverty through a collaborative focus on three urgent, interrelated threats: climate change, vaccine equity and famine.

The 24-hour worldwide event will be broadcast and streamed live on networks and platforms including ABC (and all Disney outlets), Hulu, FX, Facebook, YouTube and BBC. As a global co-chair, The Coca-Cola Company will highlight its partnership with The Ocean Cleanup. 

James Quincey, chairman and CEO, and Bea Perez, chief communications, sustainability and strategic partnerships officer, will appear onstage in New York’s Central Park to share how the company is teaming up with The Ocean Cleanup up to stem the tide of marine waste by intercepting plastic debris from 15 rivers around the world by the end of 2022. The collaboration supports The Coca-Cola Company’s World Without Waste vision to collect a bottle or can for every one it sells by 2030.

“The Coca-Cola Company is proud to support the work that Global Citizen is doing to help drive awareness and action for some of the most pressing issues facing our planet. Our Coca-Cola teams share this mission and are making a positive difference in our communities around the world,” Perez said. “We are taking action to further COVID-19 vaccine distribution and education through partners like Project Last Mile  as well as other initiatives that support a healthy, debris-free environment through the company’s commitment to a World Without Waste.”

Timed to align with the UN General Assembly and G20 and COP26 climate meetings, Global Citizen LIVE will issue an urgent plea to:

  • Donate at least 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to those most in need by September. While about 50% of the United States and Europe are fully vaccinated and oversupplied with doses, less than 2% of Africa is protected as the continent is experiencing a devastating third wave. 
  • Address the hunger crisis affecting 41 million people on the brink of famine by contributing enough meals to feed everyone for the next year. 
  • Combat climate change by securing commitments from the world’s largest companies to develop verified, science-based targets to reach net zero emissions and pledge to conserve, restore and grow at least 1 billion additional trees by 2022 towards the trillion trees movement.

“Over the last year and a half, we’ve seen music bring communities together and inspire action during one of the most challenging times of our generation,” said Katie Hill, SVP, head of music, entertainment and artist relations, Global Citizen. “We’re excited to join these incredible artists to unite people across the globe on September 25th as we hold world leaders and business leaders accountable to rectify the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Coca-Cola will be the official concessionaire for the New York and Paris events. Signage and on-site consumer experiences will encourage recycling and showcase the company’s efforts to reduce its climate footprint and incorporate recycled PET (rPET) into its packaging.

Longstanding partners Coca-Cola and Global Citizen are teaming up to highlight progress on key sustainability priorities such as women’s empowerment, water replenishment, sustainable packaging and climate action. In April 2020, Coca-Cola sponsored Global Citizen’s “One World: Together at Home”, which raised $127.9 million to equip healthcare workers with vital equipment and enable local charities to provide food, shelter and healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Coca-Cola’s partnership with Global Citizen dates back to 2013, when the company and unveiled the EKOCYCLE brand onstage at the Global Citizen Festival Concert in New York. EKOCYCLE aspired to educate people about everyday recycling choices and empower their purchasing decisions as part of a social change movement, repurposing recycled plastic bottles into fashion-forward lifestyle products.


The Coca-Cola Foundation Awards $1 Million in Grants to Organizations Supporting Afghan Refugees and U.S. Service Members, with Focus on Women and Girls

The Coca-Cola Foundation, the global philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Company, has awarded grants totaling $1 million to three nonprofit organizations providing relief to communities impacted by the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

“This is a global, multi-faceted crisis disproportionately affecting women and girls,” said Saadia Madsbjerg, president, The Coca-Cola Foundation. “We hope these grants will be meaningful in assisting our partners in the short term and the long term as they provide displaced Afghan families with critical services and provide support to U.S. service members who are playing an important role in helping Afghan refugees.”

These grants will support immediate and long-term needs of Afghan refugees with a focus on women and girls, as well as U.S. military service members and their families through three nonprofit organizations: 

  • USA for UNHCR—which protects refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people and empowers them with hope and opportunity—will support UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency to provide shelter and critical household items to meet the daily basic needs of Afghans seeking refuge in the neighboring country of Pakistan, including tents, meal preparation kits and items for collecting and storing clean drinking water. The Coca-Cola Foundation provided a previous grant in 2015 to help UNHCR support Syrian refugees. 
  • The International Rescue Committee (IRC)—which helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict or disaster to survive, recover, and regain control of their futures—will deliver emergency response and support resettlement efforts in countries where Afghan evacuees are arriving, like the United States, Uganda, Mexico, and Europe. 
  • The United Service Organization (USO)—which aims to strengthen America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country throughout their service —will provide immediate support services to help address the emotional, mental, and physical needs of U.S. service members who are returning home from evacuation efforts in Afghanistan or who are involved in post-evacuation activities such as helping evacuees at U.S. military bases. Earlier this year, The Coca-Cola Foundation also awarded a separate grant to help fund USO programs that deliver support to service members stationed abroad, as well as transition programming that provides resources for service members and military spouses. 

Since the beginning of 2021, 600,000 Afghans have fled their homes due to violence, according to UNHCR. Most of those who have been forced to flee are women and children. New arrivals in other countries will need access to basic necessities as well as services like translators, job training, school enrollment and navigating the path to secure legal documentation.

Empowering women is a core giving priority for The Coca-Cola Foundation. Separately, female empowerment has long been a priority of The Coca-Cola Company.