Wherever you go on holiday, few things are as guaranteed as finding a bottle of Coca-Cola waiting for you when you arrive. The drink is so ubiquitous that one charity has even been piggybacking it in order to distribute life-saving medicines to remote, hard to reach communities.
But with all that fizzy drink comes an awful lot of plastic bottles. In fact, a new analysis has found that the soft drink company upped its production of single-use plastic bottles last year by a billion, bringing the total number of plastic bottles produced by Coca-Cola to a staggering 110 billion every 12 months.
The company doesn’t actually publish how much plastic it uses in the manufacturing of the world-famous drink, so the environmental group Greenpeace decided to keep pace of the production itself. According to the charity, Coca-Cola has continued to increase its production of the bottles, which made up around 59 percent of all its global packaging in 2016.
This means that, if Coca-Cola continues to churn out plastic bottles at its current rate, it will account for over 20 percent of all single use-plastic bottles being produced annually by 2012. A recent Guardian report found that by 2021, the number of bottles being produced globally will jump by a fifth to a shocking half a trillion a year.
Only a really tiny amount of these bottles are actually recycled, with the majority of them going straight to landfill. More worryingly, many still find their way into our waterways and eventually get out into the ocean. Less than half of all plastic bottles manufactured get sent for recycling, and of these less than 10 percent are actually turned back into new bottles.
The amount of plastic that is currently swirling around our oceans has reached truly epic proportions and is finally starting to gain the world’s attention. It is thought that between 5 and 15 million tonnes (5.5 and 16.5 US tons) of plastic enter the oceans and that if nothing is done by 2050, plastics will outweigh fish.
Yet there are signs that big companies are listening to the environmentalists. This year Coca-Cola’s UK department announced that it will aim to up the amount of recycled plastic going into its bottles to 50 percent, improving on a previous target of 40 percent by 2020.
This is clearly a step in the right direction, but also leaves a lot of room for improvement. With more pressure and more campaigning, it is hoped that the largest soft drinks company in the world could be persuaded to lead the way in corporate responsibility for the global plastic pollution crisis we are facing.