Would Coke Be Better Naked?

naked coke can photo

The Naked Coke Can
We often overlook, in the smog of pride from collecting waste for recycling, that the principles of sustainability start with minimization. When minimization means doing without, acceptance can be hard to gain. But when minimization leads to elegance, everyone wins. Thus the green packaging proposal from Ryan Harc Design Studio -- the naked coke can -- is born a winner. If Coca-cola executives have not yet picked up the phone, they better move fast before Pepsi gets a lock on the idea.

What are the environmental savings of such a design? Could such a small thing as skipping the paint really benefit the planet?Well, if coke could save five million dollars for five millimeters of plastic shaved off of bottle caps, one can only imagine. Based on Alcoa statistics for aluminum can recycling, over 112 billion aluminum beverage cans are sold per year in the USA alone.

Looked at another way, a report examining the potential coatings market opportunity for soy-based products estimates that 33 million gallons of coatings are sold per year in the US (2007 data). That is 33 million gallons of coatings that must be burned off, by thermal or chemical processes, before the aluminum can be recycled. Of course, the interior coating cannot be neglected because it performs a protective, rather than marketing, function. But that is still a lot of material which is serving little purpose other than to look pretty.

Real Market Potential
Unfortunately, the power to differentiate a product in the market means that Ryan Harc's design could be adopted by only one company, perhaps only for a single beverage line. Gizmodo put their pencil to the paper and calculates that over 75 billion cans of coke product are sold worldwide per year. If the Coca-cola Company restricted the new design to one beverage, they could still save paint on 24 billion cans per year of Coke Classic. And benefit from all the great, green marketing potential of the elegant naked can. Not too shabby.

More on Packaging Design:
Packaging Design at Its Best (Slideshow)
Lush Goes Naked to Protest Packaging
Dell Ships Netbooks in Bamboo Packaging
Over-Packaging is a Low-Hanging Fruit to Help the Environment
Green Packaging

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