People still want plastic bottles, says Coca-Cola

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image for People still want plastic bottles, says Coca-Cola

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Coca-cola's head of sustainability Bea Perez

Coca-Cola will not ditch single-use plastic bottles because consumers still want them, the firm's head of sustainability has told the BBC.

Customers like them because they reseal and are lightweight, said Bea Perez.

The firm, which is one of the biggest producers of plastic waste, has pledged to recycle as many plastic bottles as it uses by 2030.

But environmental campaigners argue many Coke bottles would still go uncollected and end up in landfill.

The drinks giant produces about three million tonnes of plastic packaging a year - equivalent to 200,000 bottles a minute.

In 2019, it was found to be the most polluting brand in a global audit of plastic waste by the charity Break Free from Plastic.

But speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Ms Perez said the firm recognised it now had to be "part of the solution".

Coke has pledged to use at least 50% recycled material in its packaging by 2030. It is also partnering with NGOs around the world to help improve collection.

However, Ms Perez said the firm could not ditch plastic outright, as some campaigners wanted, saying this could alienate customers and hit sales.

She also said using only aluminium and glass packaging could push up the firm's carbon footprint.

"Business won't be in business if we don't accommodate consumers," she said.

"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."

Ms Perez said she respected the idealism of youth activists, such as 19-year-old campaigner Melati Wijsen, who with her sister Isabel, convinced the island of Bali to ban single-use plastic bags, straws and styrofoam last year.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Isabel and Melati Wijsen convinced Bali to ban single-use plastic bags, straws and styrofoam

Such plastics were clogging up the seas around Bali, harming marine life.

Ms Perez also said she agreed with calls for Coca Cola to reach its environmental goals sooner than 2030 - although she would not say whether she would step down if the plans failed.

"We have to reach this goal and we will - there's no question."

tyfunk02 on January 22nd, 2020 at 06:29 UTC »

Serious question, what happened with bioplastics? Weren’t those supposed to take over the market a couple years ago and replace everything with something that could easily biodegrade? If they just switched to something like that it would surely do a lot of good.

LawrenceAurelius on January 22nd, 2020 at 03:38 UTC »

I really hope that everyone on here saying Coke is irresponsible stops buying Coke (or anything) in plastic bottles...they do generally sell cans in most places.

...if you read this, got angry, and continued to buy Coke in plastic proved Coke right so please calm down and just wait for the world to burn...

To be transparent, I'm not angry...I have accepted that we aren't willing to change and the world will burn.

Dongletoaf on January 22nd, 2020 at 03:10 UTC »

Everybody wants Coke in a glass bottle. Old school yeah!