Ellen MacArthur Progress Report: Coca-Cola’s Use of Virgin Plastics is Up and its Share of Reusables is Down
Today The Ellen MacArthur Foundation released its 2023 Annual Progress Report revealing that despite its pledge to reduce its use of virgin plastic and increase its share of reusables, the company is failing on both counts.
Coca-Cola has increased its use of virgin plastic in its packaging by 228,000 metric tons since its 2019 reporting baseline. At the same time, its use of reusable (PET) plastic bottles has dropped from 4% to 1.3% compared to its 2019 baseline. This comes as the company reported earlier this year a 2% decline in its overall market share of beverages sold in reusable containers (plastic and glass bottles and fountain drinks); slipping to 14% from 16%.
This regression comes after Coca-Cola’s pledge to increase its share of reusable beverage container packaging to 25% by 2030 following a successful shareholder resolution in 2021. Sam Pearse, Lead Campaigner with the Story of Stuff Project responded to the announcement:
“Coca-Cola made an industry-leading commitment to shift towards reuse last year – the acid test is whether it can be delivered; today’s report from the Ellen Macarthur Foundation shows that the company is failing. Coke’s underwhelming track record on delivering its sustainability pledges means there is a burden of proof for the company to show progress sooner rather than later, starting with concrete steps in its flagship market.
If Coca-Cola is serious about reuse, it must bring back its refillable glass bottle it advertises so widely in the US. There are 10 states with bottle deposit laws. Deposit laws create much of the infrastructure needed to create high-performing reuse and refill systems that can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and devastating single-use plastic. Coca-Cola was a reuse pioneer once upon a time and it can be again by supporting and participating in bottle deposit systems that integrate reusable bottles.”
About Our Campaign
- Story of Stuff is calling on Coca-Cola to deliver on their 2022 refillables pledge by bringing back the refillable glass container back to the US, their flagship market, you can join the call to action and sign the petition here.
- New information has come to light showing that in 1969 Coke was the first company to commission a comparison of products for their environmental impacts from cradle to grave, called Lifecycle Assessment. The report authors told the company the reusable glass bottle was the best packaging choice for the environment; better than any single-use bottle. Read the full report here.
- Coke’s reuse pledge came as it was named the world’s biggest plastic polluter for five years running by Break Free From Plastic’s Global Brand Audits. Coca-Cola is the largest plastic-producing consumer brand in the world, accounting for 23% of the world’s PET plastic bottles – 134 billion bottles – or 255,000 bottles per minute.
- Various US states could see the introduction of binding reuse targets for beverage container legislation in the 2024 legislative session.