More bottles than fish in the ocean

The Coca-Cola Company manufactured more than 100 billion plastic containers in 2016, Organisation Greenpeace announced. This is alarming news, taking into consideration the amount of the waste which is created by our population. Independently it has been evaluated that, by 2050 the weight of floating plastic in our seas and oceans may be more than all the fish.

In many arguments about waste, Coca-Cola has long been the object of criticism by many environmental organisations. It makes a gigantic impact on natural resources and only a few other global organisations can match it and use of plastic as a packaging is simply one aspect of the story. Not to mention the billions of plastic containers, Coke puts an overwhelming ecological footprint on our planet. In 1920s, the company was known for being the biggest purchaser of sugar cane on Earth. Soon also boasted that buying the largest amount of processed caffeine. Today, at its packaging factories utilising more than 300 billion of litres of water a year. However, its total water use from the beginning to the end of produce circle is 100 times bigger.

Considering this craving for normal resources, it's understandable why Greenpeace and others see in Coca-Cola enemy number one. However, you could discover in the company's history some helpful lessons.

Let's start from packaging. In the past Coca-Cola has contended voices around the globe that would require drinks manufacturers to add a charge to the cost of their items, to be given back when clients gave back the bottle to the shop.

In 1929 around 80% of Coca-Cola bottlers used deposit system.

Using deposit for packaging started to expand in the US in 70s, as disposable steel and aluminium containers supplanted the reusable glass bottles, mainly in soft drinks and brewery industry. This change to disposables, which begun in 30s was expanding due to drive by customers for convenience. An extra factor was determined by financial matters. Coca- Cola and many others suddenly saw that they could spare cash if they didn't have to bring returnable containers back to processing plants.

The green cost of not putting a cost on waste produced by packaging posed a potential threat in America. Regardless of guarantees that more manufacturers would significantly expand reusing, colossal amounts of waste remained. Plastic containers, which developed in the soda pop industry in the 1970s, causes the biggest problem.

Coca-Cola claims that its packaging can be "recyclable". Yes, plastic bottles can be recycled, however current recycling system doesn't give incentives in many countries to do so.

At the beginning of century, approximately 80% of Coca-Cola resellers had deposit system in place and life of plastic bottles was 10 times longer than today.

How did this system stack up against the choices, taking into consideration the full ecological footprint of recovering returnable glass bottles, including washing them? In 1969 Coca-Cola reviewed and presumed that using no disposable packages will be enhanced to match or outperform that of [the 10-trip returnable glass bottle] sooner rather than later".

Anyway Coca-Cola set its future in the plastic bottles. Paul Austin CEO clarified that this was on the grounds that Coca-Cola thought that recycling system would enable them to recover a significant part of the plastic it utilised.

Now we can check if this works. An, unfortunately, the conclusion is only one. In the US inability to offer financial motivations made recycling system unsuccessful. Around 70% of plastic containers are never recycled.


Source: Coca-Colahellenic

The uplifting news is that Coca-Cola is thinking about changes. The company would consider introducing deposit system in Scotland. If this happens, Scotland would see decreased rate of plastic waste, similar to Germany and different countries that have passed measures to put reduce waste.

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