Produce plastic bottles made from 100% recycled material
We recommend that Coca-Cola increase their target of using 50% of recycled material in their packaging by 2030 to ‘using 100% of recycled material in their packaging by 2030’.
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The Issue

Coca-Cola’s current target is to use at least 50% recycled material in its packaging by 2030. Coca-Cola re-committed to this target in 2018, after it failed to reach its initial target of using at least 25% of recycled material in its packaging by 2015. In reality, Coca-Cola actually used only 12.4% of recycled material in its packaging, falling far short of its goal. Coca-Cola has insisted that it will not abandon plastic bottles due to their popularity with customers; however, in order to reach their sustainability goals, Coca-Cola needs to prioritise adjusting its plastic production methods and reduce its waste.

Coca-Cola has recently been named the top global polluter of plastic for the 3rd year in a row by the Break Free from Plastic Audit. The Audit found that 13,834 branded Coca-Cola plastics were recorded in 51 countries, an increase from 2019. Coca-Cola currently produces 3 million tonnes of plastic packaging every year and 200,000 bottles a minute. Coca-Cola needs to address its plastic pollution and the global impact it creates.

Supporting Statement

Plastic pollution is a huge global environmental issue as plastic is not-biodegradable. While plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, it still remains in the environment and enters our food chain. The production of plastic globally is continuing to increase with 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic being produced since 1950. Furthermore, half of the plastic ever produced was manufactured in the last 15 years. Single-use plastic produced by Coca-Cola will remain on the planet for centuries and hugely impact future generations.

Greenpeace found that companies distract from their plastic production by providing false solutions such as ‘compostable’ plastic. Greenpeace suggests Coca-Cola is doing this with Coca-Cola’s announcement of the PlantBottleTM , a bottle made partially from sugar cane. Greenpeace, however, states that using a percentage of plant matter in the production of plastic instead of using fossil fuels alone and labelling the material as ‘plant plastic’ or ‘not plastic’ is greenwashing. They argue that plant material undergoes similar chemical reactions as plastic made entirely from fossil fuels, and that plant plastic usually does not degrade. Companies’ greenwashing recycling messages are misleading and can easily confuse the public over their actual environmental commitment and impact.

Coca-Cola states that 60% of its packaging is refilled or collected for recycling and that 90% of its packaging is recyclable globally. However, the fact remains that only 9% of plastic made has ever been recycled. This highlights the need for more to be done to ensure that plastic is being recycled and reused by Coca-Cola.

Plastic production contributes to climate change through the use of fossil fuels in the manufacturing process. With 99% of plastic being made from fossil fuels, producing new plastic to use for Coca-Cola packaging has a huge environmental impact. Producing plastic products made entirely out of recycled plastic would greatly reduce Coca-Cola’s fossil fuel use and therefore its contribution to climate change.

Recommendation

We recommend that Coca-Cola increase their target of using 50% of recycled material in their packaging by 2030 to ‘using 100% of recycled material in their packaging by 2030’. This target increase will help prioritise the need for changes to be made in Coca-Cola’s plastic production systems and will reduce the global plastic pollution created by Cola-Cola. The increased target will also reduce Coca-Cola’s contribution to climate change.

Links
  • https://www.coca-colacompany.com/news/dasani-boosts-sustainability-credentials
  • The Elle MacArthur Foundation. The Global Commitment 2020 Progress Report. Available at: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/Global-Commitment-2020-Progress-Report.pdf
  • Break Free From Plastic (2020) Branded, Vol. III. Available at: https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/BFFP-2020-Brand-Audit-Report.pdf
  • Evans (2020) Coca-Cola and rivals fail to meet plastic pledges. Financial Times. Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/bb189a2a-57ca-44ce-82ab-1d015a20ca1c
  • https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/the-facts
  • https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/plastic-pollution
  • Break Free From Plastic (2020) Branded, Vol. III. Available at: https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/BFFP-2020-Brand-Audit-Report.pdf
  • https://www.coca-colacompany.com/sustainable-business/packaging-sustainability
  • Break Free From Plastic (2020) Branded, Vol. III. Available at: https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/BFFP-2020-Brand-Audit-Report.pdf
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