Finally, some good news on the environmental sustainability front.

Coca-Cola just unveiled a new bottle made from sugar cane instead of the typical petroleum base. Fitting, given the bottles’ sweet contents.

Coke showed off the new bottle – called PlantBottle — at a food technology conference in Milan, Italy. The company estimates that PlantBottle will be in widespread distribution by 2020. According to a company statement, it is the “first fully recyclable PET plastic bottle made entirely from renewable materials.”

So, while the bottles are still considered plastic, they aren’t made using fossil fuels – which are not renewable, and have a bigger and more dangerous impact on our environment and our health. Coke even said they’re looking at other natural ingredients like fruit peel and bark for future plastic conversions. Anyone for a Barq’s root beer in a bark bottle?

I don’t normally applaud big businesses, but I will give Coke its proper due. A few years ago, the company made a public commitment to use more and more sustainable ingredients in their packaging. In 2009, they debuted an early version of PlantBottle made from 30 percent renewables. And it’s good to see them follow through with greater eco-innovation.

The newest bottle, made from sugar cane and sugar cane processing byproducts, will be used for soft drinks, water, juice and tea. It was developed with the help of biotechnology company Virent, whose mission, according to their company website, is to replace the crude oil we use with natural, renewable sources.

This is a great step toward reducing our carbon footprint. But it’s certainly not the final answer. Even though we can recycle typical plastic bottles, Americans don’t for the most part. An overwhelming number of bottles still end up in landfills.

And, recyclable or not, the truth is that there’s no such thing as “disposable.” Beverage containers require energy, pollution and water to produce and recycle. Tap water (I run mine through a filter) in a reusable cup is always a more sustainable – and cheaper – choice.