On March 14, 2017 the environmental organization Greenpeace UK published a report entitled “Bottling it: The failure of major soft drinks companies to address ocean plastic pollution.” Greenpeace UK conducted a survey of the plastic use and policies of soft drink companies Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Suntory, Danone, Dr Pepper Snapple, and Nestlé. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles are “the second largest category of plastic packaging used globally” and plastic bottles generally are “the second most commonly sighted type of plastic packaging on the ocean surface,” the Greenpeace report explained. According to the survey, none of the companies have “commitments, targets or timelines to reduce the amount of single-use plastic bottles they use.” Most companies instead focus on ‘lightweighting,’ i.e. making PET bottles thinner and thus reducing costs, plastic use, and carbon emissions. Four of the six companies “do not . . . consider the impact of plastic bottles on oceans in their product design and development processes,” the report further stated. The survey revealed that over the past decade, companies have been reducing their use of refillable bottles and switching to more single-use plastic bottles instead. The companies used a combined average of 6.6% recycled PET globally (excluding Coca-Cola, who did not disclose its global figures on plastic use), equating to “14 times less recycled plastic than virgin plastic used across their global packaging.” Dr Pepper Snapple and Suntory currently have no targets to increase the recycled content in their PET bottles. The other four companies “disclosed partial or draft targets covering a limited number of countries.” None of the companies are aiming at 100% recycled PET use globally. On a positive note, the survey showed that companies have made efforts to remove so called ‘problem plastics’ (i.e. non-recyclable or toxic plastics). For example, companies have switched to more recyclable bottle caps and have phased out sleeves or labels made from polyvinylchloride (PVC) which is difficult to recycle.
Greenpeace (March 14, 2017). “Greenpeace report reveals plastic footprint of world’s largest soft drinks companies.”
Jim Johnson (March 15, 2017). “Greenpeace pushing for more recycled content.” Plastics News
Jim Johnson (March 16, 2017). “Greenpeace study finds fault with bottle sustainability.” Plastics News
Greenpeace (March 14, 2017). “Bottling it: The failure of major soft drinks companies to address ocean plastic pollution.” (pdf)