Coke Can Goes White for Polar Bear Plight

White Coca-Can with Polar Bear Design

Coca-Cola's white can and polar bear design for the 2011 holiday season.

In the 125 year-old history of the Coca-Cola Company, the color of their iconic can has never changed. This holiday season however, Coke will be coloring over one billion of its cans white in an effort to raise awareness of the dangers polar bears currently face. Created by Turner Duckworth, the design features a mother bear and her two cubs trekking across the arctic tundra, with the Coca-Cola insignia displayed boldly in red.  Polar bears have an enormous dependence on Arctic sea ice as a hunting ground and the fear is that as this ice in continues to vanish, so will the polar bears. Polar bears are already listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
For the length of the campaign, running from November 2011 to February 2012, Coca-Cola has partnered with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to promote the Arctic Home Project. In addition to Coke donating $2 million to the WWF, the company will also be matching consumer donations up to $1 million through March 15, 2011.
Donations collected during campaign will go to Arctic Home Project research efforts, which will help the WWF locate/identify areas of Arctic sea ice that might be less vulnerable to climate change. This “Last Ice” area may be the only refuge for polar bears able of supporting them for decades into the future. Donations to the Arctic Home Project can be texted to 357357 in $1 increments or online at

UPDATE 12/2/11

Just one month into the campaign, Coca-Cola has decided to ditch the white can design, citing consumer complaints as the primary reason behind the decision. Apparently, consumers have had trouble discerning between the original Coke flavor wrapped in this temporary can design and the diet version. Many consumers have even said the flavor of the beverage is “tastes different”. Although Coca-Cola will cease production of the new can design, the World Wildlife Fund will still receive their donation pledge.

Five Influential Food and Beverage Package Designs of the Last Decade

In the last ten years, package designs have made numerous breakthroughs that looking back, make us wonder just how we ever lived without them. They’re designs that make life that much easier in the little ways – like when it comes to opening a can of soup or keeping a can of soda cool, for example. Below are five of arguably the most influential package designs of the last decade.

#1  The Upside-Down Ketchup Bottle

Remember turning the old ketchup bottle upside-down and shaking it as violently as you possibly could just to get those last few dollops of ketchup loose from the bottom? Fortunately, Heinz finally heard our need for ketchup on demand and answered with the upside-down ketchup bottle in 2002. With its ergonomic design, squeeze sensitive silicone valve and an ability to stay upright in any fridge door, the upside-down ketchup bottle represents nothing short of genius in package design.

#2  The Soda Fridge Pack

When I was a kid, we were never able to keep cold soda in the fridge for long simply because we drank it too quickly and those ‘suitcase’ style boxes took up too much room in the fridge. Then, in 2001, the Coca-Cola company changed all that with the Fridge Pack. Alcoa conducted a consumer research study and found what was an obvious problem: that people didn’t replace soda cans as quickly as they consumed them. The fridge pack, a longer, thinner substitute to the suitcase style packaging was designed to fit inside a standard fridge with ease. The design also includes a perforated top which tears off at one corner of the package so cans can be removed.

#3  Steam-in-the-bag Vegetables

Credited with introducing the flash-freeze method of storing frozen foods over 75 years ago, it’s fitting that Birds Eye Foods would design packaging that cooks vegetables in an equally impressive manner. In 2006, the company embarked on a new, no-prep method of cooking with its Steam Fresh line of packaged vegetables. Packaged in freezer to microwave pouches that steam the veggies right in to bag, the time it takes to prepare what’s inside is reduced substantially. The launch brought the era of steam-in-bag cooking to the states, with a tidal wave of frozen foods using similar cooking methods and packaging right behind it.

#4  The Easy-Open Soup Can

According to Campbell’s, the easy-open lid was the result of research that found that nearly half of consumers stated convenience as a primary diver of their purchasing decisions. Campbell’s made purchasing and using their soup that much more convenient with the introduction of this lid. Rendering the can opener nearly useless when the company unveiled the lids on 70 different soup varieties, the easy-open lid reinvigorated the way we view convenience.

#5  The Plastic Beer Bottle

Why is a simple plastic bottle one of the most influential packaging designs of the last decade? Introduced by the Miller Brewing Company on a national scale way back in 2000, the years have provided plenty of reasons why this simple bottle is so great. For starters, plastic doesn’t shatter, so thanks to this bottle, we’re all enjoying some of our  favorite bottled beverages in venues where they were previously banned. A resealable, screw-on cap allows the beverage to be enjoyed over a longer period of time while keeping the liquid inside cool, and can be recycled in many areas its glass counterpart just piles up in landfills.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Five Sustainable Packaging Trends

The last few years have seen increasing use of sustainable packaging by a myriad of North American companies like Amazon, Coca-Cola, Sprint, Dell and Kraft Foods. Utilizing packaging that implements growing amounts of recycled materials, compostable/biodegradable packaging, reusable packaging, source reduced packaging and resource optimized packaging has been shown to cut costs while still contributing to the design quality and familiarity of brands that consumers already know and love. Below are examples from companies currently using sustainable packaging.

RECYCLED: Quiznos Food and Drink Packaging

Quiznos has established a new goal of keeping more than six million pounds of packaging materials out of landfills and to meet that objective, Quiznos now offers 100 percent compostable paper cups, biodegradable pulp salad bowls, plastic cup lids implementing 30 percent post-consumer recycled bottles and napkins made from 90 percent post-consumer, 100 percent recycled material fibers.

Designed with an obvious emphasis on the brand in mind this new packaging will save a vast amount of resources in production. Quiznos estimates that the napkins alone will save nearly half a million trees and over 15 million gallons of water. In addition, the salad bowls will save nearly one million pounds of plastic waste from ending up in landfills.

COMPOSTABLE: Frito-Lay Sun Chips Bag

In the summer of 2009, Frito-Lay, maker of the SunChips line of snacks introduced bags utilizing a single layer of a plant-based polyactic acid (PLA, aka biodegradable material). The company later promised a fully compostable bag by Earth Day the next year. The following spring, Frito-Lay delivered on that promise and launched a bag made completely of PLAs. Certified compostable by Woods End and biodegradable by the Biodegradable Products Institute, this new bag will decompose in about 100 days under the right conditions.

UPDATE Oct 7 2010: 18 months after it’s launch, Frito-Lay is “bagging” the fully compostable packaging from five out of six SunChips varieties. The noisy packaging, due to a rigid molecular structure, has spawned a lot of criticism of the new packaging, spawning the Sorry But I Can’t Hear You Over This SunChips Bag facebook group and according to some reports, more than a 10% decline in sales over the past 52 weeks.

REUSABLE: Happy Baby Organic Puffs Container

Instead of encouraging consumers to reuse their products’ packaging, Happy Baby chose to step up early in their products’ life cycle by reclaiming discontinued packaging and reusing the containers to launch a new line of Happy Baby Puffs.  Originating from Method, a company using the same packaging format for wipes, had hundreds of thousands of the containers available for purchase, along with the mold to create them as well. Already made with 25 percent post-consumer recycled content, Happy Baby was able to purchase the containers for a fraction of what it would ultimately cost to produce new ones.

SOURCE REDUCED: Sprint Accessory Packaging

Sprint‘s new line of accessory packaging is is not only smaller in size but also implements a greater amount of post-consumer waste content. The new packaging is up to 40 percent smaller in size, contains elements made from FSC-certified paperboard and 40 percent industrial waste content. PVC elements have been replaced with PET, utilizing 30 percent recycled content. Printing is done using soy and vegetable-based inks instead of the petroleum alternative. Sprint estimates that this new line of packaging will save nearly 650 tons of waste annually and reduce their packaging costs by 35 percent, saving the company over $2 million annually.

RESOURCE OPTIMIZED: Maxwell House Coffee Can

In recent years, Kraft Foods has shed over 100 million pounds in packaging their products by using sustainable alternatives. One contributor to this massive weight loss effort can be found in the Maxwell House brand of coffees, which now use composite paperboard cans in place of the steel alternative. Additionally, paperboard cans require less energy to produce and result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions than their metal counterparts. The new cans still use a recyclable steel bottom but weighs 30 percent less, use 50 percent recycled content and shed nearly 9 million pounds in material for the company.


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