Oceana: Future of returnable bottle packaging at risk following the sale of Coca-Coca Philippines | Oceana

Oceana: Future of returnable bottle packaging at risk following the sale of Coca-Coca Philippines

Environmental group calls on Coca-Cola Europacific Partners and Aboitiz Equity Ventures to commit to increasing reusable beverage packaging throughout the Philippines following approval of Coca-Cola Philippines acquisition.

Press Release Date: February 26, 2024

Location: Manila, Philippines


Gillian Spolarich | email: gspolarich@oceana.org

Oceana released the following statement from its leader in the Philippines Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos and Senior Vice President Matt Littlejohn in response to recent news that the acquisition of Coca-Cola Philippines (CCPI) by Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) and Aboitiz Equity Ventures has been approved and is moving forward. Oceana is campaigning for Coca-Cola and its bottlers (including CCEP) to increase returnable beverage bottles in place of single-use plastic in the Philippines and around the world. 

“CCEP and Aboitiz Equity Ventures, as the new owners of Coca-Cola Philippines, must address the Philippines’ growing plastic problem by committing to protecting and increasing the use of returnable bottles in the Philippines. Any reduction in the share of returnable bottles sold could have a catastrophic impact on the Philippines’ rapidly worsening plastic pollution crisis.

Coca-Cola has failed, in the Philippines, to prioritize or promote reusable packaging such as returnable bottles, despite strong evidence that doing so could reduce single-use plastics. In a recent report, Oceana found just a 10-percentage point increase in the sale of reusable beverage packaging worldwide by 2030 could eliminate over 1 trillion single-use plastic bottles and cups.

Instead, Coca-Cola continues to emphasize recycling, which has not been proven to reduce single-use plastic pollution at scale. According to research commissioned by Coca-Cola, as of 2018, the national collected-for-recycling rate of single-use plastic bottles in the Philippines was only 21%. In contrast, Coca-Cola has reported that 93% of their returnable bottles are collected to be reused, globally.

Currently, Coca-Cola is promoting its sales of single-use PET bottles with recycled content, as well as new efforts in Manila and elsewhere to collect single-use plastic PET bottles to supply PETValue, a recycling plant the company co-owns. This is happening while Manila residents and those of other big cities are not able to buy beverages in returnable bottles at local supermarkets. The lack of availability in Manila and other urban areas is concerning given that returnable bottles are sold all over the country in rural areas and that returnable bottles account for nearly 50% of all sales by Coca-Cola in the country. CCEP and Aboitiz Equity Ventures should make it a priority to offer returnable bottles in Manila and other major cities and to further increase, and not decrease, the share of returnable bottles sold in the country. 

The Philippines ranks second in the world in its use of reusable beverage packaging – only behind Ethiopia. If CCEP steps up and commits to re-use, it has the opportunity to cement the Philippines as a world leader in increasing reusable beverage packaging and fighting the plastic pollution crisis.”

Media contacts:

Joyce Sierra – jsierra@oceana.org (Philippines)

Gillian Spolarich – gspolarich@oceana.org (International)

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-quarter of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 300 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, oil and plastic pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles, whales, 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.