Plastic pollution is a huge issue that harms marine life, human health, and our planet — and no company has contributed more to the problem than Coca-Cola, as the Sierra Club reports. Earlier this year, Coca-Cola announced that it is funding a new startup to up the amount of recycled plastic it uses in its bottles.
The Dutch startup that Coke is putting money behind, CuRe, has reportedly developed “new technology,” Wouter Vermeulen, Coca-Cola’s senior director of sustainability and public policy in Europe, told the Wall Street Journal, that can produce food-grade plastic from difficult-to-recycle plastics such as films, trays, clothing, and colored packaging.
“The Coca-Cola system is committed to reducing our dependency on oil for producing virgin packaging materials and promoting recycling,” Vermeulen said.
It is currently focused specifically on Europe, as Vermeulen further said, “We are currently focused on scaling CuRe’s technology in the right way for use in Europe as a first priority, before looking at how this could benefit other markets.”
In 1990, Coca-Cola promised to achieve an average of 25% recycled material in its plastic bottles, but more than 30 years later, the realized number is closer to 10%, according to The Plastic Soup Foundation. Coke now says it hopes to bring the number up to 50% by 2030, per the Wall Street Journal.
Even if that 50% recycled plastic goal is met, Coca-Cola’s existing contributions to the plastic pollution crisis would still be immense. The company produces 100 billion plastic bottles every year, reports The Plastic Soup Foundation, and Break Free from Plastic has repeatedly judged Coca-Cola as the world’s most egregious plastic polluter.
It is also worth noting that Coca-Cola has been floating the 50% recycled plastic goal for many years now. In 2017, Coke said that it was setting a target of 50% recycled plastic bottles for 2020.
Coke is setting a target of 50% recycled plastic bottles for 2030. Unfortunately, it seems that the corporation is more interested in the positive press it can receive for such announcements than the actual positive impacts that would come from following through on them.
If you would like to avoid buying products from companies like Coca-Cola and reduce bottle use, there are many ways you can change the way you buy and use plastic in your everyday life.
If Coke’s collaboration with CuRe pans out, it could help the corporation make good on its promises at long last — but this will remain to be seen.
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