Coca-Cola’s opposition to a national container deposit scheme (CDS) in Australia has made news recently. Sustainability is good for business, and reducing the volume of packaging we use benefits not only the environment but also our bottom line.

Ensuring a sustainable source of packaging material by encouraging recycling and developing renewable forms of packaging makes sense to a business that has been around for more than 127 years.

Our biggest capital investment in recent years - AU$450 million (approximately USD$448 million) - was into equipment that enabled us to make our PET bottles lighter and use less plastic. As a result all 600ml PET bottles are being produced with a carbon footprint that is 22% lower than those previously produced.

Coca-Cola has always strongly supported recycling. For over 25 years our business in Australia has supported a national, industry-funded recycling system that targets all litter, including drink containers.  Since 2003 Australia’s packaging recycling rate has increased from 39% to 63%.  

We don’t support container deposit schemes, because we don’t think they work. An independent study commissioned by the Council of Australian Governments found that a national CDS will cost 28 times that of an industry solution to deliver a similar environmental benefit. All Australians want our country to be litter-free and beautiful, and Coca-Cola and the industry want to accomplish that goal in the most efficient and effective way.

Today, kerbside recycling is available to 90% of Australians. This highly successful system will suffer from a national CDS because, while containers make up 3% of kerbside recycling volume, they constitute 25% of revenue. Diverting PET bottles and aluminum cans from kerbside collection endangers the entire kerbside recycling industry.

We understand that trust in our company is not based solely on our ability to deliver strong financial results or having strong corporate governance. We are a company that aims to do the right thing across a broad spectrum of community life which includes environmental considerations. We believe this is the right thing for our environment and Australia.

Alec Wagstaff is the Manager of Corporate Affairs at Coca-Cola Amatil, one of the largest Coca-Cola bottlers in the Asia-Pacific region. Coca-Cola Amatil is headquartered in Sydney, Australia.