Coca-Cola will continue to use single-use plastic bottles since there is still demand for the same form customers, said the company’s head of sustainability, Bea Perez, in an interview to the BBC.
Perez said that single use plastic bottles can be resealed and are light in weight and this makes customers still demand them.
The company has promised to recycle as many plastic bottles as it uses by 2030 because it is considered to be one of the largest producers of plastic waste in the world.
However, environmental activists claim that despite such promises, many plastic bottles of Coke would still remain uncollected by the company and hence end up in landfills.
About three million tonnes of plastic packaging is produced by the company every year which is the same as manufacturing 200,000 bottles a minute.
A global audit of plastic waste conducted by the charity Break Free from Plastic in 2019 found Coke to be the most polluting brand.
The firm recognized it now had to be “part of the solution”, Perez however said speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
By 2030, the company aims to use at least 50% recycled material in its packaging. Coke has also struck partnerships with NGOs all across the world to increase collection of empty bottles.
Despite all these, Coke would not be able to completely let go of plastic, Perez said, primarily because customers can be alienated by such a measure and hence hit sales. Further, the carbon footprint of the company could increase if it used only aluminium and glass packaging, she also said.
“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 idealism of youth activists, such as 19-year-old campaigner Melati Wijsen is also respected by the company, Perez said. Wijsen and her sister Isabel single handedly managed to convince the authorities in the island of Bali to put a blanket ban on single-use plastic bags, straws and styrofoam last year. The seas around Bali are getting clogged by such plastic waste which is proving to be detrimental to marine life.
There have been demand form Coca Cola to achieve its environmental goals sooner than 2030 and Perez also said she agreed with such calls. She however declined to say anything about whether she would step down from her position if those plans failed to mature.
“We have to reach this goal and we will – there’s no question.”
(Adapted from BBC.com)