People still want plastic bottles, says Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola will not ditch single-use plastic bottles because consumers still want them, the firm’s head of sustainability has told the BBC.

Customers like them because they reseal and are lightweight, said Bea Perez.

The firm, which is one of the biggest producers of plastic waste, has pledged to recycle as many plastic bottles as it uses by 2030.

But environmental campaigners argue many Coke bottles would still go uncollected and end up in landfill.

The drinks giant produces about three million tonnes of plastic packaging a year - equivalent to 200,000 bottles a minute.

In 2019, it was found to be the most polluting brand in a global audit of plastic waste by the charity Break Free from Plastic.

But speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Ms Perez said the firm recognised it now had to be “part of the solution”.

‘Accommodate consumers’

Coke has pledged to use at least 50% recycled material in its packaging by 2030. It is also partnering with NGOs around the world to help improve collection.

However, Ms Perez said the firm could not ditch plastic outright, as some campaigners wanted, saying this could alienate customers and hit sales.

She also said using only aluminium and glass packaging could push up the firm’s carbon footprint.

“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.”

Ms Perez said she respected the idealism of youth activists, such as 19-year-old campaigner Melati Wijsen, who with her sister Isabel, convinced the island of Bali to ban single-use plastic bags, straws and styrofoam last year.

Isabel and Melati WijsenImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionIsabel and Melati Wijsen convinced Bali to ban single-use plastic bags, straws and styrofoam

Such plastics were clogging up the seas around Bali, harming marine life.

Ms Perez also said she agreed with calls for Coca Cola to reach its environmental goals sooner than 2030 - although she would not say whether she would step down if the plans failed.

“We have to reach this goal and we will - there’s no question.”

I recycle my plastic bottles. I don’t like soda out of an aluminum can, it tastes weird. I drink 1 coke per day. I’d rather they stop using aluminum cans, aren’t those harmful to the environment as well?

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Mining and refining bauxite and smelting aluminum is immensely energy intensive, uses large amounts of water, and generates air, water, and soil pollution. Making aluminum is harmful to the environment and the people who live near mining, refining, or smelting operations.

China is aiming to stop single use plastics by 2025, that means bags and bottles among other things I’m sure.

Malaysia just sent some trash shipments BACK to Canada and the UK. For the UK shipment, I know they said there was something wrong with it, contaminated or something.

Recycling aluminum does not. The melting point of aluminum is low, so recycling cans does not use all that much energy. The oxidized “waste” from the process is used as an abrasive in many products, including toothpaste.

But my heart is really with glass bottles that can be used again and again. When I was a kid, gathering Coke bottles (and milk bottles) was the number one way kids could raise money. Back when I was a kid, you got two cents for a Coke bottle and a whole nickel for a milk bottle. I’m not sure what the equivalent would be today. A candy bar then cost a nickel and costs over a dollar now, so a dollar for a milk bottle and maybe fifty cents for a Coke bottle? People go up and down the highway rights of way for aluminum cans for a lot less than that.

And people then didn’t throw bottles into the trash, either. If you didn’t want to turn them in yourself, and didn’t know any neighborhood kids, all you had to do was put them out at the end of your sidewalk or at the edge of your alley, and they would disappear in a day by someone who would get the return for them.

My buddies and I invested our glass bottle returns in Topp’s baseball cards which were worth thousands 20 years later.

As for plastic who drinks beer out of them?

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Bring back glass I say! Old fashioned soda fountains too!

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It was the same in England many year ago, now you get in trouble if you don’t recycle.

I don’t like paper straws.

Congratulations!

I don’t much like them either, but at least you can burn them without poisoning yourself like you would burning plastic straws.

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