After estimating the company produces more than 100 billion single-use bottles a year, Environmental campaigners are calling on Coca-Cola to “ditch throwaway plastic”
Greenpeace have said throwaway drinks bottles are key to tackling plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, as they are the most common type of plastic packaging found washed up in shorelines around the world.
The bottles make up a significant proportion of the millions of tonnes of plastic that harm marine wildlife, take centuries to break down and spread toxic chemicals.
A recent Greenpeace survey found more than two million tonnes of throwaway plastic are sold each year by five of the six major global soft drinks firms – with only a small number of them made from recyclable materials.
Coca-Cola did not provide figures for the survey.
But based on annual sales figures and the market share of certain products, Greenpeace has estimated that Coca-Cola sells in the region of 108 to 128 billion plastic bottles per year.
The campaign group claimed single-use bottles now make up almost 60% of Coke’s global packaging – and accused the firm of failing to meet a 2015 target to source 25% of plastic bottles from recycled or renewable sources.
Greenpeace UK oceans campaigner Louise Edge said: “In the UK alone, 16 million plastic bottles end up in our environment every single day.
“As the world’s largest soft drinks company, Coca-Cola has a particular responsibility to drastically reduce its plastic footprint and stop its bottles from choking our oceans.
“We’re calling on Coca-Cola to ditch throwaway plastic, embrace reusable packaging and make sure the remaining packaging is made from 100% recycled content, not the miserable 7% it currently averages globally.”
A Coca-Cola Great Britain spokeswoman said the company was disappointed by the report, as they had been consulting with Greenpeace on their new sustainable packaging strategy.
She said: “Coca-Cola is one of the few consumer goods companies whose packaging is 100% recyclable.
“In Great Britain, we have reduced the amount of packaging we by use by 15% since 2007 and we currently use 25% recycled plastic in all of our bottles.
“Globally, we continue to increase the use of recycled plastic in countries where it is feasible and permitted.
“We are also actively involved in conversations with policy makers and other experts about what more can be done to reduce litter and improve recycling and recovery rates and are one of the companies who have agreed to join Defra’s litter strategy working group which will focus on addressing this problem.”
Similarly, she said the company recognized marine litter was a global problem, which required collaboration across industries, charities, governments and communities, and Coca-Cola was opening to doing more and working with others to tackle it.