A new report shows that despite big promises, Coca Cola is making embarrassingly little progress towards ending plastic pollution.
"Coca Cola is one of our country’s biggest plastic polluters, pumping out hundreds of millions of single-use drink bottles every year," says Greenpeace plastics campaigner, Phil Vine.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has just released its second annual progress report on eliminating global plastic waste by 2025; the Global Commitment 2020 Progress Report.
"This fresh data shows that Coke’s approach here and overseas is long on false solutions and very short on effective action," says Vine.
Coca Cola, signed up with the Foundation two years ago, alongside 99 other companies, to create a so-called "circular economy" for plastic.
That is a system where plastic packaging is kept in a "closed loop" - with zero plastic ending up in the environment.
One of the crucial elements of the Foundation’s solution, agreed to by Coca Cola - is developing a model where drinks bottles and other packaging can simply be reused.
The report shows that Coca Cola internationally produces nearly three million metric tonnes of plastic a year and only three per cent of its packaging is reusable.
"It’s crystal clear that Coca Cola is failing to deliver on plastic reduction and making minuscule progress on shifting to reusables," says Vine.
Kiwis are sold an estimated one billion single-use plastics drinks bottles a year, with Coca Cola the market leader.
According to NZ research approximately 40 per cent of these bottles end up in the environment, going into landfill and the ocean.
More than 45,000 kiwis have signed a petition asking the Government to ban single use drink bottles.
"Instead of seriously investigating reusable alternatives such as glass bottles and bottle deposits, Coke is investing in false solutions like recycling."
The MacArthur Foundation says that we cannot recycle our way out of the plastic crisis. Only nine per cent of all plastic has ever been recycled.
Greenpeace believes the moment is ripe for the Labour Government to live up to its promise of transformation.
‘We’d like to see them use covid recovery money to invest in regional bottling plants where reusable containers can be washed and refilled."
The New Zealand government is currently taking submissions on plans to cut out other single-use plastic items like plastic cutlery and drink stirrers.
It doesn’t include plastic bottles.
"This is a big opportunity for those who care about plastic waste to get in on the discussion. A way in for kiwis to urge their Government to get more ambitious on plastic." says Vine.