Coca-Cola plastic packaging up by 8.8% in one year
Company needs to increase refillables to address its plastic pollution problem, says Oceana scientist
Press Release Date: November 4, 2022
Location: Washington, DC
Gillian Spolarich | email: email@example.com | tel: 202-467-1909
Oceana analyzed data from the Global Commitment 2022 Progress Report released earlier this week by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and found the Coca-Cola Company increased its use of plastic packaging by nearly 9% or over 579 million pounds (263 thousand metric tons) from a reported 2.96 million metric tons in 2020 to 3.22 million metric tons in 2021. This increase coincides with findings from the report that the company failed to make any meaningful progress towards meeting its pledges to increase recycled content in its plastic packaging and decrease its use of virgin plastic packaging.
Oceana released the following statement from Dana Miller, Ph.D., Oceana Director of Strategic Initiatives:
“This new report makes it clear that Coca-Cola’s recycling pledges are not stopping the ever-growing tsunami of plastic that is overwhelming our oceans. How can the company use an additional 500 million pounds of plastic in one year and at the same time consider itself to be addressing its plastic problem? Bottles with recycled content will still be thrown away, sent to landfills, burned, or littered. Some of these bottles will end up in our oceans.
In 2022, an Oceana analysis found that leading soft drink companies’ recycled content pledges have little impact on reducing the flow of plastic into the world’s waterways and seas. This is because recycled content pledges do not change consumer behaviors or improve bottle collection rates.
The best way for Coca-Cola to address its plastic problem is to increase refillable bottles – which can be used up to 25 times (avoiding 24 single-use bottles) if made of plastic, and up to 50 times (avoiding 49 single-use bottles) if made of glass. Just a 10% increase in refillable bottles in all coastal countries could reduce marine plastic bottle pollution by 22%. If Coca-Cola is serious about reducing plastic pollution, it needs to stop promoting single-use, throwaway plastic bottles and instead deliver on its commitment to sell 25% of its drinks in refillable and reusable bottles and containers. Well-designed refillable bottle systems are, according to the company’s own bottlers, better for the climate and switching to reusable packaging is one of the most effective ways that Coca-Cola can reduce its carbon footprint, as the company itself acknowledged.
Unfortunately, most of Coca-Cola’s largest bottlers — which actually determine the packaging in which the company’s beverages are sold — have made no public commitments to meaningfully increase refillable sales. The only large bottler to do so is Coca-Cola Andina, one of the biggest beverage distributors in Latin America. Coca-Cola needs the largest bottlers in the world to make meaningful and serious commitments to increase the share of refillables: companies like Coca-Cola FEMSA, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, Arca Continental, and Coca-Cola Swire. Coca-Cola and its bottlers need to aggressively market the environmental benefits of refillables to consumers – something they have yet to do.
It’s clear from these numbers that Coca-Cola needs to dramatically reduce its plastic footprint. The company and its partners need to step up and make their pledge to increase refillables a reality. By doing so, Coca-Cola can prevent billions of bottles from entering our oceans.”
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control over one-quarter of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit oceana.org to learn more.