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Coca-Cola Needs To Clean Up Its Act

For the second year in a row, Coca-Cola was found to be the most polluting brand in an audit conducted by the Break Free From Plastic Movement on International Coastal Cleanup Day. 

This year, over 72,000 volunteers in 50 countries audited approximately 500,000 pieces of plastic to help identify the corporations responsible for waste found during cleanups. Coca-Cola was responsible for 11,732 pieces found in 37 countries on four continents, which is more plastic litter than the next three top polluting brands combined—Nestle, PepsiCo, and Mondelez International.

In 2018, Coca-Cola launched the A World Without Waste campaign announcing an ambitious goal to collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can it sells globally by 2030. This year, the company announced a bottle made with plastic removed from the ocean. Coca-Cola also recently cut ties with the Plastics Industry Association, which lobbies against bans on plastic products.

However, leaked audio revealed how Coca-Cola undermines recycling efforts by not supporting bottle bills or container deposit laws, which require companies to add a charge onto the price of the drink to be refunded after it’s returned. States with bottle bills recycle about 60% of their bottles and cans, as opposed to 24% in states without bills. States that have bottle bills also have an average of 40% less beverage container litter on their coasts.

Clearly, Coca-Cola needs to clean up its act. 

Change takes time, especially in a large company that’s been around for more than 125 years. But consumers have more power than they think. Do you know what you can do to encourage companies like Coca-Cola to do better?

  • Use the power of purchasing, or in this case not purchasing. 
  • Find out what brands the polluting company owns and avoid them. Coca-Cola owns beverages like Dasani, Sprite and Powerade. You can find a complete list of Coca-Cola brands here
  • Send Coca-Cola a message or sign a petition, like this one from Story of Stuff
  • Refuse single-use plastic packaging. Actions speak louder than words. By refusing single-use plastic you can show brands, like Coca-Cola, that you’re ready for change. 

So next time you’re considering drinking a Coke, think about the 11,732 pieces of waste picked up by volunteers. There has to be a more sustainable way to drink a Coke. And we’re guessing, they’ll come up with one as soon as their customers make their voices heard. 


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