All photos courtesy of The Coca-Cola Company

Behind the Scenes Making Recycled Records with Mark Ronson


You’re walking down the sidewalk, earbuds in, listening to your favorite hip-hop beats. As your head bobs to the sounds, the sun warms your back. It’s a perfect day.

When the chorus hits, the empty Sprite bottle in your hand becomes a drumstick, passing traffic becomes a sea of concertgoers, and the concrete beneath your feet is suddenly a stage. Spinning on your heels, you close out the song with your face to the sky and hands in the air.

Spotting a bright blue bin, you chuck in your imaginary drumstick. The sound that echoes back is satisfyingly cool, a deep, reverberating clunk so loud you can hear it over the music.

That is the sound of recycling.

Imagine how harmonious it would sound to mix the tones of millions of bottles going through the recycling process—the melody of all of us doing our part?

The Coca-Cola Company recognizes its responsibility to help address the world’s plastic packaging crisis. Several of the company’s most popular brands were historically made in green plastic bottles—however, when green plastic is recycled, it is usually turned into single-use items that do not get recycled again. To take one more step toward greater sustainability, Sprite, Fresca and Seagram’s are now being packaged in clear plastic bottles, increasing the likelihood of them being recycled over and over again—a process known as “closed loop recycling.”

Surprisingly enough, closed loop recycling and music have a lot in common. Music producers typically use a technique called sound sampling: the process of taking an old sound, chopping it up, and flipping it into a completely new beat. Just like the process of recycling, old can be new in sound sampling. An old sound is used in a new track, which is morphed again into a newer track, and so on. Beats being made today will be recycled by another creative in the future. Que Uptown Funk!

To celebrate the shift from green to clear, The Coca-Cola Company partnered with iconic, genre-defining/defying producers Mark Ronson and Madlib to create the world’s first album composed of the sounds of the plastic recycling process itself. The Recycled Records EP uses real ambient sounds sampled from various points in the closed-loop recycling chain at four different recycling facilities scattered across the United States. From the percussion of a forklift beeping, to the tonal beat of a conveyor belt, to the hi-hat of air blown into a plastic bottle, the EP brings to life the magic of multiple reuses.

“It sounds very crazy to say it, but anything can become a sample…any sound can be manipulated. The sound of opening a barrel of plastic has its own funk and flow to it,” said Ronson.

Not only did The Coca-Cola Company find a way to literally turn the sounds of recycling into music, thanks to the Recycled Records Beat Machine, you can be part of that process, too. Using the site, music enthusiasts are able to remix the very same recycled sound library used by Ronson and Madlib into innovative compositions of their own through an interactive, one-of-a-kind digitized version of an 808 beat machine. Generally, the biggest obstacle for many aspiring artists is accessing the proper musical technology, which is yet another reason why Recycled Records is so dang cool—this beat machine is free and accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

Innovation and creativity are the way of the future; tap into yours today by creating a Recycled Record of your very own. Maybe someday, other people will be dancing down the street listening to YOUR beats!