Plastic bottles are a curse humanity has cast upon the world. Experts estimate that by 2021, more than half a trillion of single-use, throwaway plastic bottles will be used by beverage companies. CocaCola alone is responsible for more than 20% of that total. According to Greenpeace, its use of these vile products increased by more than one billion units from 2015 to 2016. Last year, more than 110 billion disposable plastic bottles were set adrift on the economic waters of the world by CocaCola and its affiliates, according to an analysis by Greenpeace.
Louise Edge, who heads the oceans campaign for Greenpeace, says,
“Coca-Cola talks the talk on sustainability but the astonishing rate at which it is pumping out single-use plastic bottles is still growing. We have calculated it produced over 110 billion throwaway plastic bottles every year — an astounding 3,400 a second — while refusing to take responsibility for its role in the plastic pollution crisis facing our oceans. We would love Coke to provide detailed breakdowns of what it produces — so we would welcome any clarifications they have to offer on our estimates.”
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Less than half of all those bottles are collected for recycling. Of those, only 7% were reprocessed into new bottles. The rest wound up in landfills or in the oceans. Just as fossil fuel companies wriggle and writhe to avoid paying the environmental and health care costs of their operations, drinks companies seek to avoid any responsibility for the damage caused by all those plastic bottles. Up to 13 billion tons of plastic finds its way into the oceans of the world each year. By 2050, the plastic floating in the seas will weigh more than all the fish in the oceans, according to research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
As one of our commenters said a while ago, the current world economic model is all about privatizing profits and socializing costs. It’s as if someone in the septic disposal business was allowed to dump a full honey wagon on your property to avoid paying disposal costs. No one would stand for such outrageous behavior, but it has become the norm in the global business community.
On October 2, Michael Gove, the UK’s environment secretary, announced that his government is close to implementing a deposit and return program that would pay consumers to recycle their plastic bottles. CocaCola European Partners, which formerly opposed any such plan, says it is now open to pursuing one in collaboration with the government. In July, the company said it was increasing the amount of recycled plastic in the bottles it uses to 50% by 2020, up from 25% today.
In Germany and Denmark, which already have a deposit and return system in place, 90% of plastic bottles are recycled. A dozen other countries also have similar systems and Scotland will begin one soon. In England, just 57% of plastic bottles are recycled and most of them come from refuse collection operations that taxpayers pay for. When the UK initiated a 5p fee on plastic bags recently, people stopped using them almost entirely.
“We must protect our oceans and marine life from plastic waste if we are to be the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we found it,” Gove said. “We want to hear people’s ideas on how we could make [a deposit and return system] work in England.”
Many environmental activists are calling for a more ambitious approach, however, and would prefer Coke and other drinks companies to use plastic bottles made completely from recycled sources. Among other benefits, doing so would create a market for recycled soda bottles where virtually none exists today. That would go a long way toward keeping plastic bottles out of land fills and the world’s oceans. An even better solution would be to switch to drink containers made of biodegradable materials.
Source: The Guardian Photo credit: Greenpeace