Coca-Cola, US manufacturer, retailer, and marketer of nonalcoholic beverage concentrates and syrups, says it will not ditch single-use plastic bottles.

The household beverage brand — acclaimed to be world’s biggest plastic polluter — disclosed that scrapping the bottles would alienate customers and reduce sales.

Speaking with BBC at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday, Bea Perez, Coca-Cola’s senior vice-president for sustainability and public affairs, said consumers like buying the soft drink in plastic bottles because they are lightweight and resealable.

“Business won’t be in business if 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.”

The beverages giant, however, promised to recycle as many plastic bottles and also use at least 50 per cent recycled materials in its packaging by 2030.

Perez also reportedly welcomed calls for the company to reach its environmental goals sooner than 2030, adding that “we have to reach this goal and we will – there’s no question.”

Plastic pollution, harmful accumulation of synthetic plastic products in the environment.
Plastic pollution is the harmful accumulation of synthetic plastic products in the environment. (photo credit: Daniel Muller/Greenpeace)

The company plans to achieve that by collaborating with NGOs across the world to help improve collection.

Despite Perez’s pledge, Sian Sutherland, co-founder of ‘A Plastic Planet’, a grassroots organisation with a single goal to turn off the plastic tap, has tackled Coca Cola for refusing to take the blame for the “120 billion plastic Coke bottles that pollute the world yearly.”

“Shame on Coca-Cola!’ She accused it of refusing to take ‘responsibility for the 120billion plastic Coke bottles that pollute our planet every year,” Sutherland wrote.

“Do they really think the public enjoy seeing beaches and landfills covered in #plastic waste, killing marine life and degrading into toxic microplastics that are now in our #food?

“People buy what they are sold and it is Coca-Cola’s job to sell them something different – toxic-free and nature safe.”

In December, Coca-Cola had disclosed that packaging was “not the problem”.

“I really believe strongly we don’t have a packaging problem. We have a waste problem and a litter problem,” Packaging News quoted Tim Brett, president of Coca-Cola western Europe, as saying.

“There is nothing wrong with packaging, as long as we get that packaging back, we recycle it and then we reuse it again.

“Packaging per se is not the problem. It’s the packaging that ends up in landfill or in litter. That sounds jarring when you first hear it and I am not denying there is a packaging waste problem – but it is not necessarily the material.”

In 2019, it was discovered that Coca-Cola produces around three million tons of plastic packaging every year – an estimated 200,000 bottles a minute.

Plastic materials are the major cause of plastic pollution.

Plastic pollution is the accumulation of plastic objects and particles in the earth’s environment that adversely affects wildlife, wildlife habitat, and humans.

Whether in a river, an ocean, or on land, plastic waste can persist in the environment for centuries.



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