No matter where you live, an unacceptable amount of plastic is polluting our oceans and waterways. This is an urgent problem that requires concerted action at many different levels and we have a responsibility to find solutions.

Over the years, The Coca-Cola Company and its bottling partners have worked to address many environmental challenges and, in many cases, even turned them into shared opportunities for our business and the communities where we operate. It’s part of our commitment to do business the right way.

Regarding packaging, namely plastic bottles, we’ve been at the forefront of leading knowledge, technology and best practices of the times dating back to the 1970’s and into today. We’ve introduced the first recycled plastic bottle in 1991, the first beverage bottle partially made of plants in 2009 and introduced recycling and recovery systems in communities around the world. That said, the size of the challenge with plastic waste has grown, and so, it is our responsibility to do more.

Greenpeace recently released a brand audit disclosing the amount of plastic and polystyrene they collected from beach cleanups across 42 countries. The results reported finding Coca-Cola packaging most among top brands in many of the countries. The audit is part of their goal to eliminate plastic waste from oceans. We agree with their goal. We differ with them on the solution.

Finding practical solutions to plastic waste

The current plastic collection and reuse system is broken.

Efforts by Greenpeace to raise public awareness about this important challenge are important.  But simply eliminating single-use plastic won’t end ocean pollution. The issue is multifaceted and instead requires many solutions:

  • Using materials that are 100% recyclable.
  • Creating and supporting collection systems in countries and coastal communities where they don’t currently exist for waste and recycling.
  • Improving collection and recycling rates where systems do exist.
  • Educating people about the importance of recycling and material reuse.
  • Advocating for policy that allows the use of recycled materials in food-grade plastics in the 165 countries where it’s not currently legal.
  • Bringing the cost down and availability up for recycled materials.

We’re working toward these solutions to create a circular economy that benefits society and works for our business.

World Without Waste
Workers separate PET plastics for recycling at the PetStar facility outside of Mexico City. PetStar, funded by Coca-Cola Mexico and seven regional bottling partners, is the world’s largest food-grade bottle-to-bottle PET plastic recycling plant. 

Action inside and outside our business

We are working to drive concrete action and build incentives to support development of more sustainable plastic collection and reuse systems. We are using our size, scale and convening power to make a difference, but this is not something we can do alone. It takes partnership. We are working with our peer companies, suppliers, bottling partners, NGOs, and local governments to create solutions in the areas where the need is greatest, and we can make a significant impact.

We’ve set ambitious goals for our business, to take responsibility for our packaging across its lifecycle and reduce ocean pollution. Our World Without Waste initiative includes robust work in:

  • DESIGN - Aspire to create packaging that contains at least 50% recycled material by 2030; Continue pursuing the goal to make all consumer packaging 100% recyclable by 2025 (we’re 85% of the way there today).
  • COLLECT - Reduce waste by collecting and recycling a bottle or can for every one we sell by 2030 (we’re at 59% today).
  • PARTNER - Work together to support a healthy, debris-free environment and oceans.

Since the launch of World Without Waste, the Coca-Cola system across the globe has moved quickly to accelerate country-level actions, setting goals and developing new programs to address waste challenges.

In addition to the many programs and milestones around packaging for our business throughout the past five decades, we’ve made progress against these new goals since announcing them earlier this year. See the progress. See the map.

We are urgently working to curb plastic pollution and help protect our oceans and waterways. We are developing new business models, innovations and multistakeholder approaches that we believe will propel us collectively forward.