In research from Break Free From Plastic and the Changing Markets Foundation, and several other indices, Coca Cola regularly tops the list of the world’s worst plastic polluters – but the company is aiming to improve with new reusable packaging commitments.
The global brand announced this week that it wants to significantly boost its use of reusable packaging, setting the 2030 target to have at least 25% of all its beverages sold in refillable/returnable glass or plastic bottles, or via refillable containers through traditional fountain or Coca-Cola Freestyle dispensers.
The ambition forms part of Coca Cola’s ‘World Without Waste’ initiative, which aims to make all of the organisation’s primary consumer packaging recyclable by 2025, collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one it sells by 2030, and generally raise society awareness of the importance of a clean environment.
Coca Cola said returnable glass bottles and refillable PET plastic currently represent more than half of the business’s sales across 20 of its markets, and more than 25% of sales in another 20 markets.
It added that traditional refillable/returnable packaging accounted for approximately 16% of the company’s total volume in 2020. According to the business, use of refillables is growing in several markets, and even outperforming non-refillables in Germany and parts of Latin America, where reusable bottles represented 27% of transactions in 2020.
Creating reusable packaging is certainly a nod in the direction of encouraging more circular thinking among consumers, but critics and environmental campaigners argue that helping reduce the number of bottles ending up in landfill, oceans and coastlines should be a priority.
Last October, Coca Cola and PepsiCo were ranked as the world’s top plastic polluters for the fourth consecutive year according to Break Free From Plastic, which produces a global Brand Audit report based on litter found on global beach clean-ups.
Abigail Aguilar, plastics campaign regional coordinator for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said at the time it was not surprising to see the same big brands as the world’s top plastic polluters for four years in a row.
“These companies claim to be addressing the plastic crisis, yet they continue to invest in false solutions while teaming up with oil companies to produce even more plastic,” she argued.
“To stop this mess and combat climate change, multinationals like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Unilever must end their addiction to single-use plastic packaging and move away from fossil fuels.”
Reflecting on the commitments made by Coca Cola this week, Ben Jordan, senior director of packaging & climate at Coca Cola, said: “Reusable packaging is among the most effective ways to reduce waste, use fewer resources and lower our carbon footprint in support of a circular economy.
“We will continue to highlight markets that are leading the way with reusable packaging best practices, and to support other markets as they increase their use of reusable packaging.”
Jordan noted that each market Coca Cola operates in will approach the goal in a different way.
[Image credit: Green Retail World]