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Coca-Cola: We need to reframe the way we talk about the plastic problem

By October 24, 2019No Comments

Coca-Cola sustainability campaign 2019Coca-Cola’s CEO James Quincey is launching a call to arms to “reframe the plastic problem” away from just focusing on cutting use of plastic to thinking more about how to create a circular economy.

Speaking at the One Young World conference this morning (24 October), Quincey explained that brands, governments, and non-profits “have to reframe what we are trying to achieve” to encompass both a need for zero waste and a reduction in carbon emissions.

He explained: “There are two issues that come together. We don’t need, want or can survive the environmental degradation that waste causes and there is a second issue which the carbon crisis. That overlaps in a very powerful way.”

Quincey used the example of Coca-Cola’s own products to underpin his argument, arguing that in some cases plastic bottles can overall be the most environmentally friendly option.

He explained: “Most people, if they think of the plastic problem, will go to glass or cans and that would be true from a waste problem but from a carbon footprint point of view it would be a mistake.”

Quincey noted that despite using little to no plastic, Costa ready-to-drink cans and glass Coca-Cola bottles have a significantly higher carbon footprint compared to the PET plastic used in the bottle for its Glaceau <span class="titles_updated" data-title='{ "desktop":"GLACÉAU Smartwater“, “tablet”:”GLACÉAU Smartwater“, “mobile”:”GLACÉAU Smartwater“}’>Smartwater brand.

If we eliminate single-use plastics and drive our efforts to those materials that add value we create a circular economy that will not just have zero waste but a much lower carbon footprint.

James Quincey, Coca-Cola

He noted that plastic bottles made from PET also have a higher economic value and can be recycled into bottles or other plastic objects again, helping to create a circular economy.

He explained: “If we eliminate single-use plastics and drive our efforts to those materials that add value we create a circular economy and that circular economy will not just have zero waste but a much lower carbon footprint.”

Coca-Cola has just been named the worst company for plastic pollution for the second year running by an environmental pressure group. Break Free From Plastic conducted 484 beach cleanups in more than 50 countries and found that 11,732 pieces of plastic collected were from Coca-Cola products, more than the next top three global polluters (which were Nestle, Pepsi and Mondelēz) combined.

Quincey noted that the biggest barrier to creating a circular economy was the collection of plastic waste, an issue that would require cross-group collaboration. He claimed the company is trying to do its part, and in September launched a marketing campaign that aimed encourage people to recycle.

Coca-Cola unveiled a new strategy to help reduce its environmental impact, including how to produce more sustainable packaging, in 2017. This included commitments to end the use of plastic shrink-wrap on its multipack cans in favour of cardboard and changing its Sprite bottle from green to clear to make it easier to recycle.

Quincey also pointed to a plastic bottle it has created that uses recovered waste from the Mediterranean sea.

“[With innovation] we can stop new stuff getting in but also clean up what’s already out there and turn it into reusable resources,” he said.

Quincey urged for a more methodological approach to the plastic problem that focused on “key insights”.

He said: “In all great revolutions sometimes they go down the emotional route and sometimes they go down the institutional, innovation and investment route. It’s very important that we tackle the problem of plastics, actually many of the problems we face in the climate crisis, with a focus on the key insights.”

The post Coca-Cola: We need to reframe the way we talk about the plastic problem appeared first on Marketing Week.

 
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