TORONTO - Coca-Cola Canada says it will have new plastic packaging for its bottles at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, with 30 per cent of the material derived from plants.

The bottles will be used for a variety of beverages, including Coca-Cola, Fresca, Sprite and Dasani, sold in British Columbia and Alberta next year, and eventually introduced elsewhere in Canada, said spokesman Dave Moran.

Facilities in Calgary and Richmond, B.C., will roll out the so-called PlantBottle packaging beginning in December, according to the company.

"Our PlantBottle will be in the spotlight for the Olympic Games, introducing this innovative packaging to a global audience," Nikos Koumettis, president of Coca-Cola Canada, said in a statement.

The bottle will carry labelling to inform consumers that there is plant-based material as a component.

"It is a beginning of a journey that will significantly reduce our environmental footprint," Moran said in an interview Monday from Sydney, N.S., where he was accompanying the torch on the Olympic relay.

"We're really excited about it, and how we've really analyzed how we operate and are really bringing forward new and innovative technologies to make sure that we're operating in the most environmentally friendly way possible."

Scott Vitters, director of sustainable packaging for Coca-Cola, said the plant components of the PET plastic are derived from sugar cane and molasses from Brazil.

The sugar cane being used comes from mostly rain-fed crops that were processed into ethanol, not refined sugar, the company said.

"By the end of 2010, there'll be about two billion bottles out in the marketplace, which for an initial introduction of a package material-type is pretty significant," he said from Coca-Cola offices in Atlanta.

The new bottles are recyclable, and some day the company hopes to have a recyclable bottle that is made entirely from non-food plant waste material, such as wood chips or wheat stalks.

"From a destinational standpoint, we're looking at a 100 per cent renewable bottle, so this is an initial start where we can make part of the bottle from plants," Vitters explained.

"We've got an active research and innovation team focused on a 100 per cent renewable bottle that we do think is possible, as well as looking at how we use plant waste."

The company says the new PlantBottle offers the same performance as traditional PET plastic bottles, with no difference in shelf life, weight, appearance or function.

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