According to theguardian.com, A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021. The surge in usage of plastic bottles, more than half a trillion of which will be sold annually by the end of the decade.
In addition to this, research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation states that between 5m and 13m tonnes of plastic leaks into the world’s oceans each year to be ingested by sea birds, fish and other organisms, and by 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish – and the scary part is some of it is already finding its way into the human food chain
With this, the Coca-Cola Company announced today that it is fundamentally reshaping its approach to packaging, with a global goal to help collect and recycle the equivalent of 100% of its packaging by 2030.
This goal is the centerpiece of the Company’s new packaging vision for a World Without Waste, which the Coca-Cola system intends to back with a multi-year investment that includes ongoing work to make packaging 100% recyclable. This begins with the understanding that food and beverage containers are an important part of people’s modern lives but that there is much more to be done to reduce packaging waste globally.
“The world has a packaging problem – and, like all companies, we have a responsibility to help solve it,” said James Quincey, President and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. “Through our World Without Waste vision, we are investing in our planet and our packaging to help make this problem a thing of the past.”
The new global plan comes at a time when Kenya through the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, the National Environment Management Authority and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers PET Sub-Sector group, announced that they will be working together to develop and implement a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) take back scheme to enhance environmental awareness on management of plastic bottles from this year.
The proposed takeback scheme seeks to involve all actors in the PET / Plastics value chain. In addition, this model structure will play an active role in growing the economy by creating new jobs and employment opportunities in recycling, as well as new businesses especially Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) that will become a central part of the recycling model.
Globally, the Company and its bottling partners are pursuing several key goals:
- Investing in the planet: By 2030, for every bottle or can the Coca-Cola system sells globally, we aim to help take one back so it has more than one life. The Company is investing its marketing dollars and skills behind this 100% collection goal to help people understand what, how and where to recycle. We will support collection of packaging across the industry, including bottles and cans from other companies. The Coca-Cola system will work with local communities, industry partners, our customers, and consumers to help address issues like packaging litter and marine debris.
- Investing in packaging: To achieve its collection goal, The Coca-Cola Company is continuing to work toward making all of its packaging 100% recyclable globally. The Company is building better bottles, whether through more recycled content, by developing plant-based resins, or by reducing the amount of plastic in each container. By 2030, the Coca-Cola system also aims to make bottles with an average of 50% recycled content. The goal is to set a new global standard for beverage packaging. Currently, the majority of the Company’s packaging is recyclable.
The Coca-Cola Company will work to achieve these goals with the help of several global partners: the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative, The Ocean Conservancy/Trash Free Seas Alliance and World Wildlife Fund (The Cascading Materials Vision and Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance).
In Kenya, the company is part of very productive discussions with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, under the Kenya Association of Manufacturers PET Sub-Sector group (resin importers, converters, bottlers, users and recyclers) who bring extensive experience across the value chain.
As part of the PET Sub-Sector group, we are working in collaboration with all stakeholders to develop a sustainable, holistic approach for the whole PET value chain to ensure efficient and effective waste management of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) packaging material. This is in line with the National Solid Waste Management Strategy, the Kenya Vision 2030 (waste reduction target) and Sustainable Development Goal 121 (sustainable consumption and production).
To this effect, we are therefore exploring an extended producer responsibility model that is industry-driven and industry financed. Based on proven best practice, the model must encompass both collection and recycling of PET waste as well as consumer education.
Speaking about the announcement locally, Kelvin Balogun, President of Coca-Cola Southern and East Africa said “The company has already taken great strides in reducing, reusing and recycling our packaging. We have worked closely with our bottling partners, local and national authorities, and recycling partners to improve the collection and local recycling rate of our cans, plastics and glass bottles.
We have reduced our dependence on fossil fuels by introducing the PlantBottle packaging in 2012. It is the first fully recyclable PET plastic bottle made with up to 30% plant-based materials.
Our system with partners, has invested in two bottle-to-bottle recycling facilities at Extrupet and MPact, to create recycled PET for use in the beverage industry. 45,000 tonnes of PET bottles are diverted from landfills each year for reuse in the beverage industry. An estimated 288,000m3 of landfill spaced has been saved and 82,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions is reduced each year. More than 1,500 new jobs have been created due to these two world class investments.
Coca-Cola, its bottling partners and other members of the PET value chain helped to set up PETCO, the PET Recycling Company, which in 2016 achieved a recovery and local recycling rate of 58% of post-consumer PET bottles – one of the highest in the world. This is the same figure as in Uganda where our bottling partner Century Bottling Company (CBC) and subsidiary Plastics Recycling Industries in 2016 collected 58% of all the PET it sells to the market. Through strong partnerships with municipalities and suppliers, the initiative employs over 1,200 people with the majority being women.
Additionally, our bottlers in South Africa (Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa and Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages), collectively run the biggest schools recycling programme in the country. Since its inception six years ago, R20 million has been invested in the programme resulting in 2,034 tonnes of waste collected. By selling recyclable waste to collectors, schools raise funds to develop their own infrastructure.”
Wrapping up the announcement, James Quincey said “Bottles and cans shouldn’t harm our planet, and a litter-free world is possible. Companies like ours must be leaders. Consumers around the world care about our planet, and they want and expect companies to take action. That’s exactly what we’re going to do, and we invite others to join us on this critical journey.”