Greenpeace: New Coca-Cola global plastics plan ‘dodges the main issue’

Coca-Cola has launched a new global plan to address its plastics impact, but Greenpeace has condemned the soft drinks giant for failing to reduce the number of single-use plastics bottles it produces.

The world’s largest soft drinks firm has introduced a number of new measures, including an aim to collect one bottle or can for everyone it sells, in a bid to recycle the equivalent of all of its packaging by 2030.

Coca-Cola has also set a 2030 goal to make bottles with an average of 50% recycled content, up from its current rate 7%.

“Bottles and cans shouldn’t harm our planet, and a litter-free world is possible,” Coca-Cola chief executive James Quincey said.

“Companies like ours must be leaders. Consumers around the world care about our planet, and they want and expect companies to take action. That’s exactly what we’re going to do, and we invite others to join us on this critical journey.” 

Reduce and reuse

Greenpeace has criticised Coca-Cola’s new plan for failing to include a pledge to reduce the company’s increasing use of single-use plastics globally, which now stands at more than 110 billion globally.

Coca-Cola’s pledge to boost the recycled content of its plastic bottles was welcomed by Greenpeace, although the organisation did note that the commitment is weaker than Coca-Cola UK’s and Coca-Cola Europe’s targets of 50% by 2020 and 2025 respectively.

“A litter free world is possible – but only if big companies like Coke stop producing ever growing quantities of plastic litter,” Greenpeace oceans campaigner Tisha Brown said. “They need to reduce and reuse as well as recycle.”

Brown called on Coca-Cola to follow the lead of Iceland, which announced earlier this week that it will become the first major retailer globally to remove single-use plastic packaging in its own-brand products by 2023.

Greenpeace launched a global campaign in February 2017 to pressure Coca-Cola into increasing its plastic waste efforts. Since then, Coca-Cola’s European branch has announced its change of mind about plastic bottle deposit schemes.

The company has expressed support for a deposit scheme and told Westminster MPs a new approach was needed to improve the stalled recycling rates in the UK of 57% for PET bottles.

Snowball effect

The war on plastics waste has taken on a new meaning in recent weeks, with the UK Government and the European Union launching strategies to eliminate plastic waste by 2042 and 2030 respectively.

Alongside policy pledges, the business community has been quick to outline its intentions. This week alone, the likes of McDonalds and Waitrose have either created or reaffirmed commitments to phasing out plastics waste.

In the bottle industry progress is slower – albeit positive. Evian’s owner Danone teamed up with the bottled water division of the Nestlé Group and a Californian start-up company to launch a new alliance aimed at commercialising 100% bio-based plastic bottles.

George Ogleby

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