We all know that when plastic is discarded improperly, it can harm our natural environment. At Coca-Cola Australia, we take our environmental responsibility very seriously and we’re working hard to improve recycling practices in Australia. Our vision is to create a World Without Waste.
Australians are willing recyclers and we want to help make it as easy as possible for everyone to do their part to turn the tide on plastic waste. That’s why we are proud to work closely with many environmental organisations and initiatives, like Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week, to help Aussies understand what to recycle, how to recycle and where to recycle.
Helping more Aussies to recycle
Through far-reaching initiatives like National Recycling Week, Planet Ark and Coca-Cola want to draw attention to the importance of recycling and encourage Australians to learn more about how they can be even smarter about recycling.
Aussies have made major strides when it comes to recycling paper, cardboard and metals, with 90% of metals now recycled. But with only 12 percent of plastics currently recycled, there’s room for improvement.
This is why seven out of ten of Coca-Cola’s plastic bottles in Australia are made entirely from recycled plastic. According to Russell Mahoney, director of public affairs, communications and sustainability at Coca-Cola South Pacific, collaboration is necessary for further improvements.
“Plastic packaging is a challenge for Australia and we have a responsibility to not only do our part but be an industry leader. By investing in recycled plastic and supporting others to recycle better we can help make the world’s packaging problem a thing of the past,” said Russell.
Getting recycling smart
Ryan Collins, head of sustainable resources programs at Planet Ark, says exploring new ways to build on Australians’ recycling know-how is key to helping keep plastic packaging out of landfill and our oceans.
“Planet Ark has done research into what people do and don’t know about recycling, and has developed fun ways for people to get involved and learn more,” said Ryan.
Want to test your own knowledge? Take the Planet Ark Recycling Right Quiz.
Coca-Cola Australia is also ramping up its public education efforts through its recent national campaign, which aims to build awareness of the company’s move to recycled plastic and remind Australians that all our plastic bottles can and should be recycled.
“Hearing a corporation like Coca-Cola talk about recycling and recycled content helps normalise positive action for people, which leads to behaviour change,” said Ryan.
Getting it right
What can and cannot go in the recycling bin can be confusing. That’s why national education campaigns are important in helping to both raise awareness and clear up common misconceptions about recycling.
Lack of consistency in recycling education programs around Australia can cause confusion about what you can and can’t recycle.
“For example, people think that the plastics identification code on packaging, which is the triangle of arrows with a number in it, means that it can be recycled. But it just identifies the type of plastic that it is,” explained Ryan.
It’s been more than a year since Coca-Cola announced its global commitment to create a world without waste by recycling or collecting a bottle for every one sold by 2030, and educating Australians on recycling.
“We want to encourage Australians to recycle as often as possible. One important way Coca-Cola is doing this is by improving people’s knowledge about recycling and the role it plays in keeping materials with value, like plastic, out of waterways and landfill. Supporting initiatives like National Recycling Week and working closely with our environmental partners is key to achieving this,” said Russell Mahoney.
The safest way to know if a plastic bottle or container can be recycled is to look for the familiar “mobius loop” (that doesn’t have a number in the middle of it). Often this symbol is accompanied by a written message to recycle.
Clean waste streams
Container deposit schemes also play a huge role because they create a clean waste stream for each material.
“That means there's less chance that the glass or plastic bottle is going to be contaminated by other things that shouldn't be in the recycling bin,” said Ryan.
The schemes are also a proven way of increasing recycling rates, with over 2.5 billion containers returned through the NSW CDS in less than two years.
That’s why, Coca-Cola Australia supports cost-effective, well-run container deposit schemes across Australia - to keep bottles and cans out of oceans and landfill and make sure they have another life.
“It’s great to see Coca-Cola make these commitments to recycling and sustainability. They don't want to see resources go to waste unnecessarily,” said Ryan.
A global milestone
In April last year, Coca-Cola Australia announced its largest ever investment in recycled plastic drink bottles.
Since the end of 2019, 7 out of 10 of Coca-Cola’s bottles, 600ml and under, are now made from 100 percent recycled plastic. This includes brands like Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite to Powerade, Pump and Mount Franklin.
This helps close the plastic waste loop and ensure these materials can continue to be recycled.
“A bottle being recycled into a bottle is a better outcome than a bottle being recycled into, say, a shoe, or a backpack or items that probably aren’t going to be recycled again,” said Ryan.
“The end of the recycling process isn’t just when it goes in the recycling bin. It needs to get used again. Coca-Cola is leading the way in its use of recycled plastic and that’s fantastic,” added Ryan.
By dramatically increasing its use of recycled plastic, Coca-Cola Australia will reduce the amount of virgin plastic it uses by around 10,000 tonnes per year to help create a more sustainable future.