Coca-Cola’s Recycled Content Pledges Won’t Save the Oceans from Plastic Pollution, Says Oceana Senior Vice President
Press Release Date: July 27, 2022
Location: Washington, DC
In response to The Coca-Cola Company’s announcement that Dasani will roll out bottles made from 100% recycled plastic and Sprite will transition its green plastic bottle to clear plastic, Oceana released the following statement from Matt Littlejohn, Oceana’s Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives:
Coca-Cola’s new pledge to increase recycled content in their plastic bottles will do little to address the plastic pollution crisis in our oceans or the company’s status as the world’s top plastic polluter.
Oceana recently commissioned a report that looked into the impact leading soft drink companies’ recycled content pledges have on reducing aquatic plastic pollution and found that these pledges do little to reduce 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. Bottles with recycled content will still be thrown away, sent to landfills, or littered. Some of these bottles will still end up in our oceans. This pledge, as a result, is unlikely to impact Coca-Cola’s status in the Break Free from Plastic Brand Audit as the world’s top plastic polluter. Coca-Cola has been listed as the top polluter in the last four Break Free from Plastic Brand Audit reports.
If Coca-Cola is serious about reducing marine plastic pollution, it needs to stop promoting single-use, throwaway plastic bottles and instead deliver on its commitment to sell more of its drinks in refillable bottles. By turning to refillables, the company can dramatically reduce plastic pollution because the bottles are returned and reused and will not be, as a matter of course, thrown away. Just a 10% increase in the share of refillables could prevent as many as 7.6 billion (liter equivalent) single-use plastic bottles from entering the ocean every year. Refillable bottles are also better for the climate and switching to reusable packaging is one of the most effective ways that The Coca-Cola Company can reduce their carbon footprint, as the company themselves acknowledged.
Unfortunately, the only refillable bottles you can buy in the United States are in El Paso Texas through a small pilot project which is being led by a Coke bottler based in Mexico – where refillable bottles are still strong. The success of Mexican Coke highlights an opportunity for refillables, demonstrating the appeal of thicker bottles that hold carbonation better, and are designed for multiple use. Coke needs to take steps to market and offer refillable bottles more widely in the U.S.
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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 one-third 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 www.oceana.org to learn more.