Coke to launch bottle partly derived from plants

* Coke to test “plantbottle” in North America this year

* Says up to 30 pct of new bottle comes from plant material

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Coca-Cola Co said on Thursday it has developed a new plastic bottle that is partly made from sugar cane and molasses, raising the bar in the battle for the most environmentally friendly packaging.

Coke will test the new bottle in North America with Dasani bottled water and certain carbonated brands later this year. The test will expand to the vitaminwater brand in 2010.

Up to 30 percent of the new “plantbottle” will be made from a material derived from sugar cane and molasses, which is a by-product of sugar production, Coke said.

Plastic bottles are made from a non-renewable, petroleum-derived substance.

Many large food and drink makers are looking to make their packages smaller and more environmentally friendly, especially since retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc introduced a “packaging scorecard” to rate suppliers on their ability to cut waste and conserve resources by reducing packaging.

Rival beverage makers PepsiCo Inc and Nestle are also introducing lighter-weight bottles that use less plastic.

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