Coca-Cola’s head of sustainability has said that the company will be sticking with the single-use plastic bottle, citing consumer demand and convenience, adding that a pivot to solely aluminum or glass packaging would only increase the company’s environmental footprint.
Bea Perez, Coca-Cola’s head of sustainability said that customers prefer single-use bottles because they are easily resealed and are lightweight. The company has, however, pledged to increase the number of recycled plastic bottles drastically by 2030, this includes a promise to utilise at least 50% recycled materials in its packaging by the end of the decade, as well as leveraging partnerships with NGOs globally to improve the collection of waste.
“We have to reach this goal and we will- there’s no question,” Perez said in relation to the company’s pledge to curb its environmental footprint within the decade.
Coca-Cola, according to the BBC, produces three million tonnes of plastic packaging each year, the equivalent of 200,000 bottles every minute.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Ms Perez conceded that the company has realised it needs to pivot and become “part of the solution.”
“Ms Perez said that the firm could not ditch plastic outright, as some campaigners wanted, saying this could alienate customers and hit sales,” according to the BBC. Perez also stated that moving to aluminum and glass packaging only would act to increase the company’s carbon footprint.
“Business won’t be in business is we don’t accommodate consumers,” she said. “So as we change our bottling infrastructure, move into recycling and innovate, we also have to show the consumer what the opportunities are. They will change with us,” she concluded.
There have, however, been signs that Coca-Cola is looking to increased the prevalence of recycled materials in its packaging, after a January 2019 investment of €1-billion into French facilities aimed at increasing its sustainable development capabilities and expedite its transition to a circular economy. According to reports, €500m was slated for developing its existing brands and introducing new products, with the remaining €500m aimed at improving the sustainability and environmental footprint of its production and distribution networks.
In a statement, the company said that “additional investments across all five CCEP plants in France will enable the introduction of a higher quantity of recycled material in bottles and cans and the replacement of plastic by cardboard for secondary packaging.”
Back in 2018, Coca-Coal commissioned a report aimed at reducing its plastic waste, and how it could minimise contributions to plastic waste globally; the target was to produce 100% recyclable packaging by 2025.
The Verge is reporting, however, that “the reality is neither recycling nor switching to another material like aluminum will be a cure-all for all the trash generated by single-use products. Aluminum can be recycled indefinitely, but extracting and refining virgin aluminum can leave behind a bigger environmental footprint than plastic.”
“Even when you toss a plastic bottle in the recycling bin, it most likely won’t come back as a new plastic bottle. Less than 10 per cent of all plastics that have ever been thrown away have had a second life. Recycling has gotten even harder since China stopped taking much of the world’s recyclables in 2018, so now there’s a bigger chance of that bottle winding up in a landfil or the ocean,” the story conluded.