The world has enough plastic.
It is everywhere. Take a minute to look around you. All that plastic has become a problem.
As the largest beverage company in Australia, we are responsible for driving change and leading the industry by example. This problem is bigger and more complex than any we have faced before. However, we have faced big challenges in the past and have found solutions.
I have worked for Coca-Cola around Asia for more than 20 years. Early in my career I worked in my native country India where, like much of Australia, water is an incredibly precious resource.
So imagine my pride in 2007 when Coca-Cola announced a seemingly impossible goal of returning one drop of water to the environment for every drop we take out for our products and processes. We gave ourselves until 2020 to accomplish this.
For a company that operates in more than 200 countries around the world, you can imagine the complexity. Yet we achieved this five years early because Coca-Cola knows how to work together with many partners to effect big changes.
We do it by working with others. We work with our bottlers, environmental partners and governments to find solutions to difficult challenges.
I have confidence that The Coca-Cola Company can meet the challenge of plastic pollution. In Australia, with a way of life so linked to our pristine beaches and vital inland waterways, meeting this challenge is every bit as important as water.
The packaging problem is even larger and more complex than water sustainability. In scale, it is an issue that spans many industries in many countries and will require us all to lean in to play our part.
On this challenge, Coca-Cola will lead from the front. We will use the strength of our brands, the scale of our business, our partners and our resources to work toward a world without waste.
We have set an ambitious global goal to tackle it, which is to collect or recycle a bottle or can for every one we sell, by 2030.
Firstly, we have made our bottles and cans recyclable by design to give them every chance of being recycled.
We are also taking a major step to invest in recycled plastic in our bottles to keep this material in a constant closed loop and out of our oceans or landfill.
By the end of 2019, in Australia 70% of our plastic bottles will be made entirely from recycled plastic.
That is all bottles 600ml and under across our range of beverages including Coke, Fanta, Sprite and Mt Franklin. This is a significant commitment by our business together with Coca-Cola Amatil, and we believe it will spur on a more viable local market for recycling in Australia.
Most importantly, it means that from 2020, we will be using around 16,000 tonnes of recycled plastic each year. That means we will avoid using around 16,000 tonnes of new plastic.
It is not 100% yet though, and we know we have more to do.
But for Australians who enjoy our products they can be confident that whether it is Coca-Cola, Sprite, Mt Franklin or Fanta or any of our brands, the small bottle they buy will not be made from new plastic.
All our bottles and cans can be recycled.
Our use of recycled plastic relies on reliable collection schemes so we support collection efforts large and small around the country.
We actively support large scale, cost-effective, well-run container refund schemes that improve recycling rates.
Our bottling partner Coca-Cola Amatil has a 40-year history of operating the collection scheme in South Australia, and also helps operate the schemes in Queensland, NSW and the ACT.
These recycling schemes also give bottles the best chance of being recycled. They help create a cleaner waste stream that can be transformed into recycled content that has real economic value.
We are working with partners to reduce plastic waste, clean up existing waste and improve recycling.
"Our priorities are cleaning up marine debris, improving access to recycling in public places, and developing innovative solutions to recycle plastic waste."
No one can solve this issue alone, but if we all do our bit, together we can make a big change.
We are working with many partners on many initiatives to improve environmental outcomes.
In the end, we know these are the first steps to solve a problem of this scale and complexity, but they are not insignificant ones.
Australians can count on us to do what we commit to – and that is to lead from the front to help create a world without waste.
Follow us here or social to keep up-to-date on our commitments and our progress.