The Coca-Cola head of sustainability underlined that the company will continue to produce single-use plastic bottles because consumers still want them.
Beatriz Perez represented the world’s largest beverage company in the 2020 World Economic Forum, held in Davos, Switzerland.
“Business won’t be in business if we don’t accommodate consumers,” the executive 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.”
Coca Cola will continue to deliver the popular drink to its customers using the single-use plastic bottle, even though the company has plans to implement 50 percent recycled material in its packaging by 2030.
Committed, But Is That Enough?
Perez later explained that last year, the multinational firm launched a program called “A World Without Waste” that aims to look at how Coke can design better materials and move toward 100 percent recyclability.
The executive said Coca-Cola wants to learn new ways of recycling polyethylene terephthalate (PET) so that the bottle that’s been used is recycled and put back into the economy.
“We’re actually innovating in materials like the plant bottle that we launched a couple of years ago, and that we have now open-sourced and have given intellectual property away,” adds Perez.
“At a certain point in time, we need to find a solution to the plastic pollution problem.”
“We all took part in that commitment and set a goal to collect 100 percent of the packages we used and do that also in partnership to drive that circular economy.”
“We know that not one single company can do this on their own. We need government, we need civil society, we need other business partners, but we are truly committed. There is a tension in the marketplace because this is a real concerning issue.”
The truth is that the US drinks giant is the single largest plastic-polluting corporation on the planet, followed by Nestlé, PepsiCo, and Mondelez.
Actually, and according to the figures revealed by the Break Free From Plastic movement who collected litter in 484 cleanups across more than 50 nations, there’s more Coca-Cola waste in coastal areas than the next three companies on the list.
The Coca-Cola Company produces over three million tonnes of plastic packaging per year, including 110 billion plastic bottles, the equivalent to nearly 200,000 bottles a minute.
“Coca Cola has told the world that it won’t stop making plastic bottles because that’s what shoppers want,” stresses Surfers Against Sewage.
“But the ugly truth is that the ocean and sea life are being choked by plastic from big businesses like Coke and PepsiCo.”
“The problem is too big to simply pick our way out of, and we need to fight it at the source and force plastic polluters to clean up their act.”
What Do Consumers Say?
But do consumers really want and need single-use plastic bottles to enjoy a fresh Coke? Apparently, they don’t.
A survey conducted by Piplsay found that 42 percent of Americans think Coca-Cola should use eco-friendly packaging such as aluminum or glass for its bottles.
And 51 of Americans would buy Coke even if the bottles were heavier or came in non-sealable packaging.
Interestingly, 64 percent of the consumers believe companies like Coca-Cola should be more responsible for the environment, and one-third of respondents think the firm should recycle all of the bottles it produces.
The main reason why consumers do not use more reusable bottles instead of single-use plastic ones is that they forget their bottles at home.
Of all plastic produced in the world, 44 percent was made after 2000.
So, environmental and social responsibility is on the companies’ side. Will they do their part?