Ecocentric

Coca-Cola and will.i.am Team Up to Sell High-End Recycled Products

How do you get kids to be eco-conscious? Make recycling cool and expensive.

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Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

will.i.am performs during the Diamond Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace on June 4, 2012 in London, England.

You may already recycle your bottle of Diet Coke, but soon you will be able to buy will.i.am-vetted products made from those recycled bottles. Coca-Cola and the the musical artist are partnering to make a line of products called Ekocycle. The concept behind the company is to give recycled products a hip image to make them more appealing to young consumers. We can expect to see a full line of clothing, gear, and furniture from the company in 2013.

Ekocycle is a passion project for will.i.am. He first pitched the idea to Coca-Cola in 2010 during the Black Eyed Peas tour stop in Atlanta. “You would take the technology that makes plastic and make a thread out of it to make jackets and shoes and glasses and watches,” will.i.am told Billboard Biz. But the key to his idea was then partnering that sustainability brand with other popular brands to create a demand for recycled products. Will.i.am envisioned a world in which “the people are demanding the product they love to be made out of sustainable materials.”

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“If you think about (recycled) products now, none of them are cool,” he later told the Associated Press. “You have to bring some art and fashion sensibility into this technology that turns a bottle into something cool.” Will.i.am brought some of that sensibility to Ekocylce’s first commercial (in a YouTube video above), which will be airing Wednesday during the Olympics. (The Olympic Games are sponsored, in part, by Coca-Cola.) The commercial features a song and voice over by will.i.am and previews some of the stylish products—a bag, a chair—that Ekocycle will create from recycled materials.

But the hip will.i.am image comes with a high price tag. The first Ekocycle product—a pair of headphones by Beats, a popular high-end brand from rapper and music producer Dr. Dre—will retail for $349. In comparison, Beats’ other headphones cost anywhere from $199.95 to $399.95 on BeatsByDre.com. An Ekocycle hat by New Era will cost $32.

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The processes necessary to incorporate reusable waste into another product are expensive. As a result, recycled products tend to be pricey. But Ekocycle hopes that the star power of will.i.am and partnerships with high-end brands will sway customers into thinking green…and dropping a little extra dough. Coca-Cola will lend a helping hand as Ekocycle launches; they’ve committed to contribute $1 million to the project over the next five years. And Coca-Cola has even said that it will donate its portion of the licensing profits to recycling and community improvement groups.

Each Ekocycle product will sport a logo that says how many recycled bottles or cans were used in the making of that product: three plastic bottles for every pair of Beats headphones, for example. The goal, says Bea Perez, chief sustainability officer at Coca-Cola, is not to immediately make a massive dent in reducing waste—the volume of recycled materials they use is not that high yet—but to transform the way young consumers think about recycling. With celebrity endorsements, that plan just might work. “We wanted something that could be innovative and break through the clutter,” Perez told Billboard Biz. “If we did it alone it wouldn’t work, but if we do it with someone like Will that can inspire a youth movement to make change, that was more powerful than anything else. It was Will being personally involved and having that vision that excited us more than anything else.”

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4 comments
Roger Hamilton
Roger Hamilton

Two points:

First, Patagonia has been producing clothing (and now footware) out of recycled plastics for maybe over 10 years...and their stuff is probably the most functional, high quality, and stylish/cool clothing out there...absolutely top quality stuff..and if you climb, ski, snowboard, hike, etc...well their products could keep you alive in the mountains, not just look good at Starbucks.  By the way, they also were one of the first companies to use organic cotton...  they have tried and are succeeding at leading the way towards corporate responsibility and environmental sustainability

Second:  Coca-cola is responsible for so much junk...I mean, do you really need to drink everything out of single serving plastic bottles, people?  So they should have been doing this a long time ago...like Budweiser, the biggest recycler of aluminum maybe on the planet...it's a win/win (except to the oil and plastic companies, I guess...)

anyways, I'm always glad to see more of this, because it's becoming contagious..

TurdFerguson
TurdFerguson

I'm all about reducing consumption while increasing what we reuse and recycle.  This Ekocycle idea makes me want to kick my own nuts.  Too many legitimate good ideas out there to  pay much attention to this one.  Green?  No.  Green-backs?  Yes.

27
27

The more this enviro-crap gets pushed on us, the more we need to look for companies who are willing to stand up to this eco-terrorism.   Coke's been on the bad side it seems for the past few years.  Well past time to switch to Pepsi.

Companies are certainly free to push their enviro-crap on us if we're willing to pay for it, but more of us need to stop being willing to pay for it. Anything that supports the agenda is potentially making it one step closer for enviro-fascism to take over.

No to greenies, no to carbon taxes, no to cap and trade. Climategate revealed the scam that AGW is and it's time that companies (like Chick-fil-A did) take a stand against this green form of red communism!

Adnan7631
Adnan7631

This is reeking of total selfishness. Here is an alternative to you having to pay tax dollars to reduce the crap on the ground and the number of animals that choke on plastics and the cost of different resources (including oil), an alternative you don't even have to participate in/ pay for, and you can't even be apathetic to it? That's pathetic. I imagine you keep your house clean; why not make an attempt to keep the world you live in clean?