“It’s simply the right thing to do,” said Ben Jordan, senior director of environmental policy at The Coca Cola Company. “We want to be part of the solution, not just part of the problem. Our consumers expect us to lead the way. So we are.”
He referenced the issue of marine debris, which late last year shocked watchers of the BBC’s Blue Planet 2 series. “Unless the flow of plastics and industrial pollution into the ocean is reduced, marine life will be poisoned by them for many centuries to come,” Sir David Attenborough informed viewers.
Since then, the issue of plastic waste has risen up the political agenda. On Friday, 200 MPs from all parties called on the UK’s leading supermarket chains – which The Guardian has calculated create more than 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year – to eliminate plastic packaging from their products by 2023.
That five-year timescale is rather more ambitious than the vision outlined by the prime minister when she suggested recently that unnecessary plastics could be scrapped within 25 years.
Iceland, the frozen food retailer, has already said it will end plastic packaging for all its own-brand products and is aiming to be plastic-free within five years. This followed a survey in which 80% of the 5,000 people polled said they would back such a move.
YouGov noted that majority of people who would consider shopping at Iceland (59%) agreed with the statement that “the plastic bag charge is exactly the sort of thing that the government should be doing – taking action to save the environment in small and simple ways”.
It added that the retailer will be hoping that scrapping plastic packaging will shift opinion and perception of what the brand stands for, and possibly persuade those who have never shopped there to give it a try.
Waitrose has also announced it will end the use of black plastic by the end of the year in its own-label food packaging, with the longer-term goal making all its packaging capable of being recycled, reused or compostable by 2025.
Coca-Cola’s argument that it is doing the right thing got short shrift from campaigners who noted there was no intention to reduce the company’s increasing use of single-use plastic bottles
“It contrasts starkly with pledges to reduce the use of disposable plastic made by many retailers in recent weeks,” a Greenpeace spokesman said.
Sourced from Coca-Cola, The Guardian, Evening Standard, YouGov; additional content by WARC staff