“Keep It Real”…a Study on Coca Cola Glass Bottle Recycling & Promotion

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“Keep It Real”…a study on Coca Cola Glass Bottle recycling & promotion …prepared by Howard Glenn Wanned
For Morningside College and the Chesterman Company
Spring, 2010

The legacy of Coca Cola would be incomplete without one mainstay: the contour glass bottle. Changes in domestic beverage packaging trends have seen a steady decrease in the use of glass bottles. Plastic and aluminum cans are the norm, relegating glass bottles to a novelty, or a collector’s item. This is not the case in other countries, where Coca-Cola contour glass bottles continue to thrive.

This paper shall examine demand trends in the use of glass packaging, improvements in the glass packaging industry, continued success of glass abroad, and the general process of recycling glass bottles. Several business and industry players will provide viewpoints. This study will propose ways to increase local consumer demand for glass bottle Coca-Cola, while reducing production cost associated therewith.

Chesterman Company of Sioux City distributes two varieties of glass bottle Coca-Cola: an 8-oz version from a Fort Worth, Texas bottler and a 12-oz version bottled in Mexico. Both of these varieties enjoy modest sales, and relatively little overhead cost locally. Gold Peak Tea is a brand in the Coca-Cola family, which has seen successful sales in glass bottles.

"Drinking Coca-Cola classic from what stone folks call 'the little bottle' is a total sensory experience,” said Ralph Cooper of Coca-Cola USA in a February, 2000 article. “We talked to a lot of people and they told us that there's nothing quite like drinking Coke from this bottle," Cooper said. "We also learned that the experience is really meaningful to consumers and enhances their desire to enjoy Coca-Cola … It's instantly recognizable upon sight, feels perfect in your hand, makes a distinct sound when it's opened and offers a taste and aroma that can only be Coca-Cola."

Chesterman Company employs an extensive and aggressive marketing department, but local sales promotions of glass bottle Coca-Cola have not been a top priority. The 12-oz “Mexiglass” is currently promoted to retailers as one free case with the purchase of six cases, according to Doug Leckband of Chesterman Company. The 8-oz glass bottles are typically tied to national campaigns, such as Christmas promotions and the recent Coca-Cola 100-year Anniversary edition.

The Mexiglass originates in Monterey, Mexico, according to the Laredo Coca-Cola Distribution Center in Laredo, Texas. The Laredo distributor also offers Fanta Orange in the glass bottles from Mexico. Nationwide distribution of the Mexiglass is rapidly increasing in popularity, as customer demand pulls the product through the market channels. Nostalgia and flavor are among the top reasons for the demand. Newspaper articles from Sioux City, Waterloo, Fort Worth, and Philadelphia all reveal the common sentiment: “it tastes better.”

The empty 8-oz glass bottles originate in Mexico, according to a spokesperson from the Coca-Cola bottling center in Fort Worth. Vitro Packaging, the oldest glass bottle supplier in Mexico, provides the bottles to Coca-Cola. Vitro founded Mexico’s first glass container factory, Vidriera Monterrey, in 1909. Today, the company operates six production facilities in Mexico, two in Central America, and one in South America. The main export facility for Vitro is the Monterrey location, according to Vitro (US) President John T. Shaddox.

Shaddox estimates the 8-oz contour bottle comprises 70% of Vitro production for Coca-Cola. The facility in Monterrey produces and exports the 8-oz contour bottles to twelve U.S. Coca-Cola bottlers. The balance of glass production for Coca-Cola products comes from Vitro plants in Queretaro and Guadalajara.

Glass bottled beverages are most predominant in Mexico, with plastic and aluminum packaging being the minority there. According to the 2007 Coca-Cola annual report, glass bottles accounted for 12% of global...
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