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COCA-COLA EUROPE EMBRACES DEPOSIT EXPLICITLY

Amsterdam, 11 October 2019 – In 2025, Coca-Cola Europe will take back as many bottles and cans as it sells. This is one of the new goals that Coca-Cola Europe has announced. The multinational, which sells more than 120 billion packaged drinks worldwide every year, is under increasing pressure because of its contribution to the plastic soup. The new targets embrace the introduction of deposits. Without a deposit, the promise to collect as much as is sold cannot be fulfilled. With this declaration, Coca-Cola Netherlands unequivocally supports the introduction and expansion of deposits.

Tightened up goals

By January 2018, Coca-Cola had already set itself the goal of collecting the same amount of plastic bottles and cans as it sells by 2030, as part of the World Without Waste campaign. This goal has now been achieved five years in advance. According to Coca-Cola-CEO James Quincey in an interview with CNN, there will be no longer ‘single-use’ if all bottles are collected again for recycling. Other (sharpened) goals are:

  • Plastic that is difficult to recycle is no longer used.
  • For the packing of bottles and cans, no more plastic is used, but cardboard.
  • Plastic bottles consist of at least 50% recycled material, thus avoiding more than 200,000 tonnes of new plastic.
  • Complete transparency about the use of plastic.

Transparency

Coca-Cola has a very bad track record when it comes to unsuccessful sustainability goals. For example, in 2008 it was announced that by 2015 25% of plastic bottles would be made of recycled plastic. In reality, by 2018, this was only 7% worldwide, as can be seen in the revealing DW Documentary on ‘Coca-Cola’s plastic secrets’. In order to determine whether Coca-Cola is actually reducing its plastic footprint, it is, therefore, necessary for the company to be fully transparent about the annual use of each type of plastic, including how it relates to the set targets. And Coca-Cola has made that promise! Now it has to be clear whether there will be an absolute reduction of plastic, or whether the announced reduction will be overtaken by the company’s growth. In other words: all efforts will be canceled out when more plastic bottles are sold.

Capri-Sun as a litmus test

One of the many brands of Coca-Cola is Capri-Sun. Capri-Sun drink bags have no deposit, you can’t return them after use and they’re not easy to recycle because they consist of multiple layers of plastic with a layer of aluminum. They make a visibly large contribution to litter. Preventing these bags from ending up in the environment should be a high priority. Coca-Cola’s statement raises pressing questions in this regard:

  • Is Capri-Sun being withdrawn from the market because Coca-Cola has undertaken to stop using all packaging that is difficult to recycle?
  • Will there be a deposit on Capri-Sun? And where will you be able to return the packaging?
  • Will Coca-Cola collect as many drinks pouches as it sells by 2025, or will this promise only apply to bottles and cans?

Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation: ‘We expect full transparency from Coca-Cola Nederland on the question of how in our country each brand implements the set goals. All too often, promises made by Coca-Cola have turned out to be false’.

 

Read more – Coca-Cola: Let’s not waste this summer

Read also – Coca-Cola is the biggest polluter

Read alsoCoca-Cola’s secret war against deposits

Read alsoGovernment should just ban drink pouches

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Coca-Cola Recycling Fail: tag your Litterati photo #CCRF

Amsterdam, 8 August 2019 – Coca-Cola has announced that no bottle or can with their brand should be left as litter in the environment. The company says that one hundred percent of their packaging, from all over the world, must be returned for recycling. The message is on every package or cap: “help us recycle” or “please recycle”. But in practice you find discarded Coca-Cola packaging wherever you go. This summer, Coca-Cola Netherlands is running a campaign called “Let’s not waste this Summer”. The company is calling for people to stop buying Coca-Cola if they will not help to recycle the packaging. However, more is needed than these empty words. Therefore, the Zwerfinator has also started a campaign: to map discarded Coca-Cola packaging with the Litterati app.

Coca-Cola takes no responsibility

What is the point of indicating on each bottle or can that it should be recycled, when you know that many people will simply dump it somewhere? Coca-Cola has known this for decades. The reason is simple. In this way, the consumer is made responsible for the litter from Coca-Cola and the company can lead us to believe that sustainability is a top priority for them. But it’s misleading, because the company takes no responsibility for the huge amount of used and worthless Coca-Cola packaging. What would help is the introduction of a container deposit (statiegeld) on small bottles and cans. Because as soon as packaging has value, it will be returned for recycling. But we don’t hear Coca-Cola discussing this. In their summer campaign, Coca-Cola does not even mention statiegeld.

#CCRF

Dirk Groot, a full-time litter collector known as the Zwerfinator, has also started a campaign this summer and everyone can participate: Operation #CCRF. He wants to map just how much Coca-Cola packaging ends up in the environment, despite all the best intentions. These items show that the 100% recycling target is but an empty promise. Joining the campaign is very simple: if you find a can, bottle or cap from Coca-Cola with the request to recycle printed on it, pick it up and take a picture using the Litterati app. Then tag the photo in the app with #CCRF. That’s all you need to do; the Zwerfinator places all found items on a map and regularly updates social media – and of course will also inform Coca-Cola. Watch the video here:

The Zwerfinator has in recent years mapped more than 230,000 litter items (of all brands) using the Litterati app. The more photos, the better the insight into the Coca-Cola Recycling Fail (CCRF). So join in – the campaign has just begun and dozens of people in the Netherlands and abroad are already involved.


Also read: Coca-Cola: Let’s not waste this summer

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Coca-Cola: Let’s not waste this summer

Amsterdam, 25 July 2019 – Isn’t it nice to drink a cold coke during a hot summer? Coca-Cola sales will increase in summer, but how many of the sold cans and bottles will end up in our environment? If Coca-Cola has its way: zero. The beverage multinational has started the global “World Without Waste” campaign in 2018. Part of this campaign is the retrieval of all packaging worldwide for recycling and an increase of the recycled plastic used in packaging. And to achieve this all, they want to cooperate with local organizations. The plan is amazing as well as ambitious, since we are dealing with 3 million tons of plastic packaging per year. According to the calculations of British newspaper The Guardian this equals 200,000 plastic bottles per minute.

Dutch summer campaign

In the Netherlands this recycling plan has been developed and made part of the largest Coca-Cola campaign of the year: ”Let’s not waste this Summer”. Consumers are told not to buy Coca-Cola if they cannot help the company with recycling the packaging. All consumers should dispose of the packaging in a responsible way. And if you dispose in the right way, and prove it, you could even win a sustainable prize. Would this convince all the people, who have the bad habit of leaving their cans and bottles in the street, not to buy a coke? Of course not. This is a smart marketing campaign presenting Coco-Cola as a sustainable company, while they lay the responsibility of cans and bottles in the environment solely at the consumers’ door.

Three brands 100% recycled plastic

The returned PET bottles are used to make new bottles. This summer, Coca-Cola announced that three brands (Chaudfontaine, Honest and CLACÉAU Smartwater) will be in PET bottles entirely made of recycled plastic in the beginning of 2020. That means a reduction of 900 tons new or ‘virgin’ plastic in Europe every year. The global goal of the World Without Waste campaign is to use at least 50% recycled plastic for all bottles in 2025. To increase the use of recycled plastic in the bottles, a higher percentage of bottles need to be returned. That is why the consumers are urged to separate plastic from other waste. However, even bottles entirely made of recycled plastic can end up in our environment. And that chance of bottles ending up in our environment increases when the amount of bottles sold increases.

Coca-Cola and the deposit-refund system

Coca-Cola has an ambivalent attitude to the introduction of deposit on bottles. With a deposit-refund system you make sure that a high percentage of bottles is returned. You will not get a sustainable prize once but you will get the deposit refunded every time you return a bottle. A couple of years ago, Coca-Cola has stopped its opposition to deposits when governments want to introduce or extend the deposit-refund system. However, the company does not promote deposits as a means of retrieving recyclable packaging. This summer campaign would only be credible if Coca-Cola expressed their support for a deposit-refund system. 


Also read: Coca-cola largest plastic polluter

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Greenpeace torpedoes plans of multinationals to curb plastic soup

Amsterdam, 14 November 2018 – Greenpeace exposes the falsehoods in the plans and actions of multinationals to curb the plastic soup. Eleven multinational companies active in the sector of fast-moving consumer goods, have been vetted by the environmental organization. The companies are the biggest in the sector: Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson-Johnson, Procter&Gamble, Mars Incorporated, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Unilever, Mondelez International, Danone and KraftHeinz. None of these companies has formulated policy to reduce their total amount of packaging plastic. On the contrary, all plans presented so far allow unrestrained growth of single-use packaging plastic.

This is the Greenpeace conclusion in the recently published report ‘A crisis of convenience’. The consumer society has led to the environmental problem of the plastic soup. About 40 percent of all the plastic that is produced, is packing plastic that is used only once. Much of it ends up in the oceans and is comes from these multinational companies, whose business model is completely based on single-use packaging plastic. In summary their plans to combat the plastic soup consist of three pillars:

  • Reducing weight per plastic packaging
  • 100% recyclable packaging
  • Use of recycled material to replace new plastic.

Greenpeace believes that the intention to reduce the weight per plastic packaging is no indication whatsoever of the total amount of packaging plastic that the multinationals will use in the future, because meanwhile the number of sold packages constantly increases. The multinationals are found to actually abuse the ‘recycling-will-solve-the-problem’ argument to carry on as they do now. Neither does Greenpeace that the intention to produce 100% recyclable material guarantees that 100% recyclable will indeed be recycled 100%. According to the Greenpeace report recycling as a solution is a myth, because:

  • At present only 9% of all plastics worldwide is recycled;
  • The products that are presently made from recycled plastic are worse in quality and of less value. It is therefore no actual recycling, but downcycling which will cause the demand for virgin plastic to remain as large as it is now;
  • Much of the packing material is not designed to be recycled, such as mini packs consisting of multi-layered films;
  • There is a large lack of recycling infrastructure world-wide, both in terms of the collection of plastic waste and of processing it.

The brand audit report, based on the counting of stray plastic on brands in 42 countries, comes to the conclusion that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Danone are the biggest polluters. Greenpeace investigated how many single-use plastics the eleven multinationals sold in 2017 and comes to the conclusion that the companies that sold most, were exactly the same as the most polluting companies according to ‘The brand audit report’, even in the same order.

Greenpeace makes the following recommendations to the multinationals to really fight the plastic soup:

  • Embrace annual reduction targets of packaging plastic in order to eventually banish it entirely;
  • Be completely transparent about the total amount of plastic used, not just per item;
  • Start the elimination of problematic and unnecessary plastics, such as the mini-packaging immediately;
  • Invest in recycling of bottles and trays and innovate in the associated logistics.

Maria Westerbos, Director of the Plastic Soup Foundation: “The Greenpeace report touches on the sore spot. The promises of multinationals are hollow, as they are based on business as usual instead of on really fighting the plastic soup”.


Also read:

Coca-Cola largest plastic polluter

The big dispute: recycle or reduce plastic?

Unilever and the plastic soup

Ambitions of Plastic Soup Foundation and SodaStream meet on Roatán Island

They are no standard holiday souvenirs that Maria Westerbos has brought from Honduras. A small plastic elephant without a trunk and a torn off leg of a Barbie doll – once baby pink and presumably subject of warm affection. Now a homeless and dirty piece of plastic, blackened, stained, scratched and smelly. How long these toys have been travelling, and via which route, before Maria picked them from the beach on Roatan? Only heaven knows. Now they are on her desk in Amsterdam, as silent witnesses of the plastic disaster which takes place in the seas and along coastlines worldwide.

A JOURNEY WITH A PURPOSE

The founder and Director of the Plastic Soup Foundation has returned from a visit to the Honduran island of Roatán, 8 kilometres wide and 60 kilometres long. She was there together with SodaStream-CEO Daniel Birnbaum and the 150 most senior managers of the company from 45 countries. Maria was keynote speaker and travelled along as the only representative of an NGO, together with filmmaker Chris Jordan (‘Albatross’) and an international group consisting of some twenty influencers and journalists.

The entire top layer of the Israeli company – which sells devices that convert tap water into sparkling water in an instant – flying to specifically this tropical island, was not without reason. “Daniel had a clear purpose, he wants his company to make a big change, away from disposable plastics,” says Maria. “That was also the reason I responded to this invitation. If such a big company is undergoing a radical change of direction, it is important that all your managers understand why. He wanted to confront them with all plastic junk that washes ashore on such a remote island every day. He wanted to clean up together with them, and that is what we did, joined by local school children. A few days in a row we got up between 5 and 6 o’clock in the morning, when the temperature was still reasonably comfortable. By 10 a.m. the temperature had already risen to 45 degrees.”

There was no stopping it, the plastic just kept coming. Large recognizable plastic objects such as a fan and the brush of a broom, but also flip flops, dolls, bottles, cans and especially numerous, multi-coloured plastic particles that can no longer be cleaned up by hand. The leaflets may still describe Roatán as Paradise Island, the island is now especially burdened by waste.

“There is no waste management on the island, nothing. I saw football pitches covered with waste and  children playing football around it. I saw piles of rubbish in back yards of houses, where it is dumped and occasionally set on fire. You can see the traces of burning. People throw it down this way, because no provisions have been made. Wherever you look, you see waste. Only at the homes of the superrich you can see that cleaning has been done. But also this waste ends up on large heaps along the coast line and is sooner or later carried away by the sea. That sight of all that waste hit me tremendously. I thought: If the same happens on all those islands in the world that have no waste management, all that waste that has nowhere to go, these small paradises will literally choke on waste and plastic soup. And add to this all the waste the wind blows onto the coasts and is washed ashore from god-knows-where. It made me very sad. And it also made me combative, that is the way it works with me. Worldwide, many more people at each level need to become infected, put their heels in the plastic soup and say: this far and no further.”

PLASTIC TOO DIRTY FOR RECYCLING

The island is completely surrounded by water and indeed receives the waste as a gift from all directions, from the entire Caribbean, from Guatemala, Belize and Mexico in the West and from Cuba and Haiti in the Northeast. “All drains flow directly into the water. At one point I sank away into the poop and plastic soup until halfway my calves. Oh Maria, I thought, when I struggled forward on my slippers: this can easily give you infections. If this is our future, if all bounty islands look like this or will look like this any time soon, then both humans and the ocean are at great risk. Earlier I have seen the plastic soup wash ashore on Hawaii and on the beaches in Vietnam, I have seen it float in the dead Bagmati River in Kathmandu high in the Himalayas, but to see such a small habitat in the middle of the ocean or here in the Caribbean Sea collapse under plastic trash, is certainly enough to make one weep.”

“It is therefore very interesting to see how SodaStream turns its managers into an army of plastic fighters. Yes, that was printed on the t-shirts they all wore. I found it a special experience to see how much serious dedication there is. The ambitions are high. On the closing night I heard Daniel Birnbaum say they want to clean up 95 percent of the plastic soup.”

On Roatán, SodaStream also unveiled and tested the so-called Holy Turtle, a floating system towed between two boats that should filter plastic from the sea. “Even if it works, you still face the problem what to do with the waste after you have taken it out of the water. If there is no waste management system nearby, you need to bring it to the mainland. Recycling is not an option: much plastic from the sea is so polluted that only a fraction of it is reusable. It is a complex problem, it’s not all that easy. But the intention is amazing. Daniel is infected with the same virus that infected me ten years – and many others I am happy to say.”

‘YOU MUST SEE IT WITH YOUR OWN EYES’

What made the difference for the SodaStream top executive? “He told me that he had seen many videos and pictures of the plastic misery on beaches. Then he flew to the island a few months ago to take a look. Just calculate the cost of flying 200 people to such a remote island and rent an entire resort. But if you can transfer the virus to your managers and can explain to them why you think their company must take its responsibility, then it’s terribly effective. You have to see it with your own eyes! Some companies fish for plastic in the canals of Amsterdam, which is also good. But I think that many more companies should make the same type of journey as SodaStream did. You could compare it with Bernice Notenboom who’s going to the melting Arctic with captains of industry. I would like to do something similar myself, to show CEO’s what we all do together. We are the only animal in the world that soils its own nest, with deadly results.”

“Daniel and I share that insane ambition to clean up the plastic and fix the problem. To save the world! But if you have that ambition, then, gradually, also come the disappointments. If SodaStream is serious about structurally working with us, if you want to make a difference, then it always starts with yourself. You have to begin with the approach at the source. So that is why I say: SodaStream, go on a plastic diet. Reduce your Plastic Mass Index: your PMI. We can help you with that. You need to make a plan: take the plastic out of your packaging, remove the plastic from around your packaging, replace all your plastic bottles within a couple of years. Yes, now they still have glass and plastic bottles that consumers can refill. In term, SodaStream will therefore have to dispose of those plastic bottles. The caps are also made of plastic. If you want to be a Plastic Fighter, you have to put yourself on a plastic diet. And your customers too. Actually, we all need to go on a plastic diet! We have worked hard on this concept in 2018.”

‘WE WILL GO ON A PLASTIC DIET, SO WILL YOU’

SodaStream has generously donated $10,000 to the Plastic Soup Foundation. “That is very important to us. We will use it for the ‘plastic diet for consumers’ web application that sets out to make ‘losing plastic weight’ fun and attractive. We will then also integrate the diet in an app that keeps track of where you are, so that you never can fall back. I see a nice cooperation ahead: campaigning on the plastic diet together. SodaStream saying to its consumers worldwide: ‘we are going on plastic diet, so will you! And use this app.’ Such a message can reach very many people worldwide. That is a unique proposition, it will make you stand out.”

To what extent the recently announced billion-dollar take-over of SodaStream by PepsiCo affects the plastic-free ambitions of the Israeli group, is yet to be seen. Maria sees opportunities. “The CEO of PepsiCo also visited the island, when we were there. I have the impression that Pepsi wishes to do something. But if you look at the worldwide data of World Cleanup Day, they stand cheerfully side-by-side with Coca-Cola. PepsiCo is one of the biggest polluters. It is of course a super tanker and it is particularly hard for such a huge company to change course. In comparison, SodaStream is a speedboat. SodaStream is to remain independent, so is the agreement and the intention. Maybe SodaStream can set the correct example which PepsiCo can follow and examine what they can do to tighten the single-use plastics tap. That would be fantastic.”

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Polluting drink multinationals lobby against fixed caps

Amsterdam, 18 October 2018 – Soft drink caps are one of the most common items found on beaches. The caps are made of a plastic that floats, while PET plastic bottles sink. Last May, the European Commission proposed a new directive to reduce the plastic soup. The plans are in part based on the items that are most commonly found on beaches. It is therefore only to be expected that the European Commission wants to make it mandatory that caps be attached to bottles. After all, this has been successful with the pull tags of drink cans. The vote on the new directive is due next Wednesday. In the meantime, the lobby machine of the soft drinks companies are working hard to reverse this step. According to an investigationpublished earlier this month into the most commonly found brands, the top three polluters are Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestlé. These three companies, together with Danone, sent a lobby letter to the European Commission. In the leaked letter, as reported by De Standaard, they state that the intended measure will not lead to the desired result. Instead, they believe that a deposit or other collection system will enable at least 90% of all bottles, including caps, to be collected by 2025. In the meantime, should it appear in 2021 that this approach is not viable, fixed caps can still be made mandatory. The Independent also reported on the story.

“If this proposal is accepted we will start introducing the mentioned commitments immediately,” the four companies promise. This sounds like blackmail as article 9 of the European Union’s proposal is already to have a collection of 90% in 2025.

According to Recycling Netwerk, the soft drinks industry is refusing to take important action to reduce litter. Recycling Netwerk summarises the industry’s tactics, saying that the companies are trying to postpone new measures to sometime in the future to gain time in the hope that the next European Commission will no longer introduce the directive.

The multinationals emphasise that a deposit system would be effective in attaining the goals. This is ironic given that they are resisting introducing a deposit system in countries such as Belgium, France and Spain. The four multinationals further state that in the Netherlands and Germany in March next year, they will assess the percentage of caps collected through the deposit system. But what they forget is that in the Netherlands, the deposit is only levied on large bottles and not on the small bottles. This is why small bottles are found everywhere as litter. In a report, CE Delft believes that 50-100 million plastic bottles, including the caps, end up as litter.

Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation says that “The soft drinks industry’s lobby letter unintentionally shows how important it is to impose a deposit system on allplastic drinks bottles andto ensure that the caps are attached to the bottle. Its attempt to avoid the proposed mandatory cap system clearly shows that cost reduction is always much more important than looking after the environment.”


Also read:
Coca Cola largest plastic polluter
European Commission proposal to reduce single use plastic

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Coca-Cola Largest Plastic Polluter

Amsterdam, 10 October 2018 – Worldwide research into the origin of plastic waste has identified Coca-Cola as the worst plastic polluter. More details on the research, based on the 239 cleanups that took place in 42 countries this year, can be found in the report Branded. In search of the world’s top corporate plastic polluters, compiled by Break Free From Plastic (BFFP). And their press release is available here.

About 10,000 volunteers picked up and identified the brand of over 187,000 pieces of plastic trash. The three most frequently registered brands are Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé. And overall, polystyrene was the most common type of plastic found, followed closely by PET.

This report stresses the need for multinationals to take responsibility for the end stage of their products and not place the responsibility for plastic waste on the shoulders of consumers and (local) authorities. To avert the plastic soup crisis more products should be sold without plastic packaging or the packaging should be reusable.

Despite all their grand talk about the circular economy, multinational companies, producing food, beverages, cosmetics and cleaning products continue to offer their products in single-use plastic packaging. BFFP urges multinationals to drastically reduce their use of single-use plastics and really take their responsibility.

The top polluters in Asia are Western multinationals. These brands are, according to the report, responsible for 30% of the plastic pollution. In 2017, during a cleanup of a beach in Manila (Philippines) 54,260 pieces of plastic were collected and audited. This 2017 brand audit found Nestlé and Unilever to be the largest polluters.

Global Coordinator of Break Free From Plastic, Von Hernandez: “By continuing to churn out problematic and unrecyclable throwaway plastic packaging for their products, these companies are guilty of trashing the planet on a massive scale. It’s time they own up and stop shifting the blame to citizens for their wasteful and polluting products.”


Also read: Unilever largest polluter in the Philippines

SodaStream: “F*CK PLASTIC BOTTLES”

Amsterdam, September 26 – SodaStream is offering an alternative to plastic drinking bottles. The SodaStream machine turns tap water into sparkling water. You won’t need to carry around plastic bottles anymore – in fact, you won’t even need plastic bottles at all. The company is market leader in the creation of sparkling water, and is active in at least 46 countries. It’s known for its ad campaign, in which traditional beverage companies felt attacked on their contribution to the plastic soup, sending the message that disposable plastic bottles damage the environment. The clip Shame or Glory, which uses people from the Game of Thrones TV-series, is a good example. The company, which also produces T-shirts that feature the text F*ck Plastic Bottles, was recently bought by PepsiCo for 3.2 billion dollars.

It’s not surprising, then, that the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) demanded in late 2016 that SodaStream end their campaign. Their demand was dismissed as unfounded.

The Royal Belgian Industry Association for Waters And Soft Drinks (VIWF) also sued, specifically against SodaStream Benelux, but their complaints were also dismissed as unfounded.

In late 2017, several VIWF members then sued SodaStream Benelux. Coca-Cola, Nestlé Waters, Spadel, Danone, and Roxane Nord demanded a periodic penalty payment of 50,000 euros a day as long as the campaign was still available. The campaign, they said, was humiliating for consumers of plastic. The Brussels appellate court refuted the multinationals’ claims, and motivated that SodaStream’s message “concerns essential and socially relevant information”.

Now SodaStream has once again won its case, the company is considering to file a 10 million euro damages claim against the claimants in the near future. SodaStream Benelux’ General Manager, Johan Schepers, declared: “We intend to gift the money to the Plastic Soup Foundation, if SodaStream’s claim is confirmed by the court.”

Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation: “We’re pleasantly surprised by the announcement from SodaStream Benelux to donate the money to us in case the announced claim is confirmed by the court. In turn, we’d donate five million euros to projects all over the world that, like us, fight against plastic soup. We’ll use the other half for scientific research, its dissemination, and education. With this much money, the Plastic Soup Foundation will be able to fight the fight against plastic soup much more effectively.”

THE BIG DISPUTE: RECYCLE OR REDUCE PLASTIC?

Amsterdam, 22 June 2018 – Recently, multinationals have set goals to deal with plastic pollution that they themselves have created with their single-use packaging. Their goals have a striking similarity. Whether it is McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, Unilever or Coca-Cola, they all pledge that in 2025 or 2030, 100% of their packaging will be made of renewable, compostable or recycled materials.

What they do not say is that the endless uses of plastic packaging will simply continue. Similarly, there is no assurance whatsoever that no plastic packaging will leak into the environment.

Just take Starbucks for example. As early as 2008, Starbucks promised that 100 percent of its coffee cups would be either reused or recyclable by 2015. Ten years later, most of their four billion cups still end up on landfills and elsewhere every year – the plastic coating in the cups means that they can hardly be recycled and there is no system to collect the used cups. It makes no difference to the plastic soup whether the cups are made of recycled materials or not.

The only real solution to tackle plastic pollution is to dramatically reduce or ban single-use packaging.

The solution for Starbucks is simple. Kiss the disposable cup goodbye and serve coffee either in personal cups that customers bring or put a deposit on the cups so that they will be returned and reused.

While some countries are announcing bans on single-use packaging – see the recent initiatives by the European Union and India – other governments are falling for the wiles of industry. Environment ministers in Australia, for example, recently declared that all Australian packaging must be recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025. Is it any wonder that these targets will be carried out by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, whose members include 950 packaging companies?


 

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England introduces deposit system with Coca-Cola’s support

Amsterdam, 6 April 2018 –British Environment Minister Michael Gove has announced that England will introduce a deposit system on all single-use drinks packaging during this term of government. This includes packaging made from plastic, metal and glass. Later this year a consultation session will be held, but a deposit system will definitely be introduced. Read the official press release by the government.

An estimated 13 billion drinks in single-use packaging are sold in the United Kingdom every year. Only a limited number are recycled and much ends up in the environment. The announcement only applies to England. Scotland and Wales announced recently that they would also introduce deposit systems. Minister Gove called deposit systems “a game changer” in the fight against plastic soup.

Unlike the Netherlands, the United Kingdom does not have any form of deposit system yet and a whole new infrastructure has to be set up with machines to collect deposit bottles.

Coca-Cola long resisted fiercely against the introduction of a deposit system, just as it did in other countries. But now the multinational is fully embracing its introduction and even calls the decision a “once-in-a-generation opportunity”.

Julian Hunt, vice president of Coca-Cola in Europe, told Sky News that he was “really pleased” to hear the plans. He supports the deposit system as a solution to the increasing concerns about plastic. “We see that current methods collect 60 to 70%, but that is not good enough”. He wants to see cooperation with the British government, but also wants to see a single system introduced into the United Kingdom to keeps costs down for businesses and to prevent confusion among consumers.

Maria Westerbos Plastic Soup Foundation director: “This is particularly good news. But the million-dollar question is why Coca-Cola Netherlands hasn’t adopted the same rhetoric as Coca-Cola Europe and openly embraced the expansion of the Dutch deposit system to include small bottles and tins. How much longer do we have to wait?”