Despite decades of failure to recycle more than a very small percentage of its plastic packaging, the Coca-Cola Company is again trying to sell people on its recycling efforts. Coca-Cola has been declared the worst plastic polluter in the world. It pumps out 200,000 bottles a minute, an equivalent of 3 million tons of plastic packaging a year. Coca-Cola admits it produces 3m tons of plastic packaging a year | Coca-Cola | The Guardian.
Although Coca-Cola says it is trying to solve the plastic problem, the company is actually taking steps that are making it worse. In Samoa, the company bottles its beverages in reusable glass but has recently switched to single-use plastic only. The residents have reported a great increase in plastic pollution. Samoa has no recycling facilities to deal with the increased plastic. Coke has offered a subsidy to help with the collection and recycling. (162) How can Coca-Cola solve its plastic problem? - BBC News - YouTube The company has a history of making promises that are nothing but PR spin. Coke's recycled plastic bottle scheme criticized as PR spin by green groups | Plastics | The Guardian
Coca-Cola resists going from plastic bottles to aluminum cans for its beverages. In fact, Coca-Cola is releasing a small plastic bottle just slightly bigger than a can. Coca-Cola's plans to reduce plastic waste "simply don't go far enough" (dezeen.com) Many fear that plastic bottle will replace their aluminum cans. Aluminum can be recycled endlessly and has great value in the scrap market. Plastic can often only be recycled once and most often has negative value in the scrap market, which means paying someone to take it. Smaller bottles also create a bigger challenge to recycling.
There have been some attempts to use refillable plastic bottles on some college campuses, which is a preferable solution. Reusing a container greatly reduces the demand for plastic and thus its waste.
In June of 2021, the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit alleging false advertising by Coca-Cola and other plastic water bottle manufacturers regarding the recyclability of its plastic bottles. (Sierra Club Complaint (final)) Coca-Cola states that the bottles are 100% recyclable. The Sierra Club alleges the labels are #5 plastic, which is not recyclable. Even when the actual bottle reaches a recycling center, on average, 28% of the plastic that is recycled is lost in processing and due to contamination. In addition, many of the bottles do not reach recycling centers. Instead, they are burned, end up in landfills or discarded in the environment. (Sierra Club Sues Coca-Cola and Others Over Recyclability Claims | Sierra Club ) The Court recently dismissed the claims but has granted the Sierra Club leave to file an amended complaint.
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