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Coca-Cola bottling plant sparks excitement with first-of-its-kind project: 'You will do the right thing'

"Liberty is thrilled to be the first bottler in the United States to implement this innovative packaging system."

“Liberty is thrilled to be the first bottler in the United States to implement this innovative packaging system.”

Photo Credit: iStock

A Coca-Cola bottling plant in New York is blazing a new path with a first-of-its-kind project. 

Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages in the village of Elmsford is currently constructing a "quadgeneration" system that will allow the plant to produce its own energy, both heating and cooling, and then capture the carbon dioxide produced during that energy production and use it to carbonate its beverages.

The quadgeneration system, expected to be up and running this winter, will use two reciprocating engines to produce its power, with an existing gas line already serving the facility. This will eliminate the facility's reliance on the energy grid.

Jamie Clarke, CEO of Clarke Energy, the entity installing the system, said, "This complex technology will substantially reduce Liberty's carbon emissions through high-efficiency local energy production."

Liberty capturing its own carbon will have a huge impact. It's a large facility that serves thousands of restaurants, supermarkets, and retailers in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The facility currently depends on roughly 200 deliveries of carbon dioxide a year, brought in by truck.

This isn't Liberty's first venture into a more environmentally friendly way of doing things. In 2022, the bottling facility teamed up with Graphic Packaging to replace the plastic rings that hold six-packs together with a fiber-based paperboard called the KeelClip. This will remove an estimated 75,000 pounds of plastic packaging from the supply chain per year. KeelClips are already in use throughout the area Liberty serves.

Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages co-owner Paul Mulligan said, "Liberty is thrilled to be the first bottler in the United States to implement this innovative packaging system."

Coca-Cola is making progress in other ways as well. In several European countries, the cola giant recently changed the design of its plastic bottles and transitioned to a new design with the bottle cap attached to the bottle. The cap turns to loosen, then flips back like a lid.

According to the North Sea Foundation, plastic bottle caps are among the most deadly forms of trash to marine life, as seabirds and other marine mammals can consume them.

Still, Coca-Cola has a long way to go. According to Break Free From Plastic's 2022 annual audit, Coca-Cola is the world's top plastic polluter, an unfortunate distinction the company has earned each of the last five years. The data was collected from 200,000 volunteers in 87 countries, analyzing trash gathered from beaches and other places.

This new system is a move in the right direction, as Liberty's co-owner Paul Mulligan told GreenBiz, "If you really authentically care, you will do the right thing."

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