Goal: Work with our partners to recover and recycle the equivalent of 75 percent of the bottles and cans we introduce into developed markets by 2020.
Progress: On track. We estimate a 59 percent recovery rate in developed markets.
Goal: We aim to recover and recycle 50 percent of the equivalent bottles and cans we introduce globally each year by 2015.
Progress: Achieved. We estimate that 59 percent of equivalent bottles and cans we send to market are recovered. While the two recovery goals listed above may seem similar, the distinctions are important because the significant differences in infrastructure between developed and developing countries mean the pace of packaging recovery will vary between developed markets and the world as a whole.
What Are We Counting in Our Recovery Goals?
We have made progress toward these goals through continued support of recovery and recycling programs. Our system works with community organizations and supports initiatives that facilitate proper package disposal and helps the public change behaviors that generate litter. In addition, with respect to our packaging goals, when we say “equivalent bottles and cans,” we mean that we count toward our goals the recovery of bottles and cans that are equivalent to the ones we introduce into the marketplace, although they may not be packages of Coca-Cola products, as long as we supported or helped to recover the same packaging types and amount.
In 2014, we joined The Recycling Partnership, a new public-private partnership focused on increasing curbside recycling initiatives in the United States. The partnership offers grants aimed at creating lasting increases in recovery rates, including infrastructure improvements, education programs and strategic outreach.
The global recovery goal established in 2009 for 2015 considers the recovery programs that our system directly manages or funds. We do not report collections through programs managed independently by municipalities, or through informal systems in developing markets.
We have learned that many stakeholders mistakenly believe that the recovery percentage we report refers to the total number of bottles and cans diverted from landfill. In reality, the recycling and diversion rate is much higher, especially in many developing markets. Many developing countries do not track or report recovery and recycling rates.
We are working with many stakeholders to develop verifiable estimates of annual national recovery rates for key emerging markets such as Brazil. Meanwhile, the 2020 goal for developed markets is based on a more accurate reporting of the total number of recycled or recovered bottles and cans.
You may have noticed that we have not updated our global goal for recovery and recycling to 2020, as we have for other goals. We’ve concluded that data is not yet available to establish a baseline and sound global goal.
First brought to market for beverage packaging by The Coca-Cola Company, PlantBottle packaging replaces a traditional fossil-based ingredient used to make a key ingredient in PET plastic with renewable materials made from plants. In 2015 alone, we distributed 8.7 billion PlantBottle packages. Since the material’s launch in 2009 through December 2015, more than 40 billion PlantBottle packages have reached the market in over 40 countries. Made from up to 30 percent plant-based materials, the use of PlantBottle packaging to date has helped prevent 365,000 metric tons of potential carbon dioxide emissions – the equivalent of 41 million gallons of gas, more than 77,000 cars or 845,000 barrels of oil saved.
The original PlantBottle developed in 2009 replaced one of two key ingredients in PET with material made from plants; however, in June 2015, Coca-Cola unveiled 100% PlantBottle, which is the world’s first prototype PET bottle made entirely from plant materials. We continue working with our partners towards a pathway to commercialization.
PlantBottle packaging now accounts for 29 percent of the Company’s packaging volume in North America and 8 percent globally, making Coca-Cola the world’s largest consumer of bioplastics. As we promote the adoption of PlantBottle packaging, we’ve learned of its ability to help us build emotional connections with consumers. PlantBottle packaging is available in more than 30 global brands and has proven to be a top differentiator for many of these brands, particularly our water portfolio, led by Dasani™ in the United States. We also introduced the technology across our water portfolio in key markets, such as Russia and Italy; and also continued to roll the technology out across certain juice and tea brands including Simply, Minute Maid and Gold Peak.
Our system-wide analysis of our carbon footprint demonstrates that packaging is a significant contributor to our greenhouse gas emissions. With that in mind, we are tracking and measuring our work on recycled and renewable PET and lightweighting packaging as part of our overarching goal of reducing the carbon footprint of the “drink in your hand” by 25 percent by 2020. This approach accounts for the importance of climate change to the global community and our business, while giving our business and our bottling partners the flexibility they need to reach that overarching goal.
More on Journey
- 5 Keys to Being Fearless: Jean Case Challenges Coca-Cola Scholars to ‘Take Risks, Be Bold and Fail Forward’
- Coca-Cola India and Partners to Invest $1.7 Billion in Country’s Agricultural Ecosystem
- Coca-Cola CEO: 'Progress is Achieved in Partnership, Not in Isolation'
- Can America’s Biggest Consumer Goods Companies Help Boost Recycling in Cities?
- Getting to the Corps: Young (and Sometimes Unlikely) Conservationists Reflect on Their Time in L.A.’s Backyard Forest