Coca-Cola has no plans to ditch its single-use plastic bottles, the BBC reports. The company's senior vice president and chief communications officer Beatriz Perez says the reason is to keep customers happy with their resealable, lightweight, plastic beverage packaging, despite the mountains of trash it produces as a side-effect.
"Customers like them because they reseal and are lightweight," Perez said. "Business won't be in business if we don't accommodate consumers. 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."
While it pledges to recycle as many plastic bottles as possible by 2030 — the goal is 50 percent — Coca-Cola worries that it'll alienate customers and negatively affect sales targets if it implements the changes immediately. In other words, the company is affectively blaming consumers for a disposable culture it helped to create.
Coca-Cola is responsible for approximately three million tons of plastic packaging per year. BBC equates that to 200,000 bottles per minute. Last year, Break Free From Plastic dubbed it — alongside Nestlé and Pepsi — one of the worst three companies in the world for contributing to plastic pollution. The accompanying press release explicitly states that Coca-Cola not only contributed to the plastic crisis, but they actively offered "false solutions" to tackling it.
In the report, Abigail Aguilar, Greenpeace Southeast Asia plastic campaign coordinator said that these corporations “continue to rely on false solutions like replacing plastic with paper or bioplastics and relying more heavily on a broken global recycling system. These strategies largely protect the outdated throwaway business model that caused the plastic pollution crisis, and will do nothing to prevent these brands from being named the top polluters again in the future.”
Denise Patel, US Coordinator for the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) added, “The products and packaging that brands like Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and PepsiCo are churning out is turning our recycling system into garbage. Plastic is being burned in incinerators across the world, exposing communities to toxic pollution. We must continue to expose these real culprits of our plastic and recycling crisis."
That "toxic pollution" is a result of production and disposal, a process that (to vastly simplify) releases climate-warming greenhouse gases. Elsewhere, as Greenpeace asserts, one "rubbish truck full" of the stuff is dumped in the ocean every minute, spawning cancerous pollutants, carrying disease, and devastating wildlife as the debris floats downstream.
This is all before we dive into a) the amount of money it would cost Coca-Cola to revamp their business model, which is probably what the $88 billion company means by "business won't be business," or b) assess whether their "this is what keeps the consumers happy" mantra is even correct, considering the increase in demand for sustainable products. Also, let's be honest, it's not a great look when even companies like Starbucks are making a bigger effort to sort their ways.
In the meantime, make like Jonah Hill and make reusable bottles your go-to "accessory." Read more about that here.