Greenpeace hails target as ‘first substantial reuse commitment from a major brand’

The Coca-Cola Company has today unveiled a new reusable packaging target, announcing that it is aiming for at last a quarter of all beverages sold across its portfolio of brands to be sold in refillable and returnable bottles or refillable containers by 2030.

The world’s largest plastic packaging producer said the goal was “industry leading” and in line with its wider commitments to tackling its plastic footprint, including pledges to make all its primary consumer packaging recyclable by 2025 and ensure half its packaging is made from recycled materials by 2030.

The multinational argued it had a “proven track record” with reusable packaging, noting half its product sales in 20 markets were in the form of returnable glass bottles and refillable PET plastic bottles, with such product categories accounting for more than 25 per cent of sales in a further 20 markets.

“Reusable packaging is among the most effective ways to reduce waste, use fewer resources and lower our carbon footprint in support of a circular economy,” said Ben Jordan, senior director of packaging and climate. “We will continue to highlight markets that are leading the way with reusable packaging best practices, and to support other markets as they increase their use of reusable packaging.”

The Coca-Cola Company has been identified for four years running as the biggest plastic polluting company in the world in an annual plastic waste audit managed by the Break Free Plastic campaign, and is estimated to produce more than 120 billion plastic bottles a year.

Will McCallum, head of oceans at Greenpeace, welcomed Coca-Cola’s new commitment, noting the target was the first “substantial reuse commitment” from a major drinks company.

“It is a significant step in the right direction, but we will keep the pressure on Coca-Cola to double its commitment to 50 per cent reusables by 2030,” he said. “This is the first substantial reuse commitment from a major brand and the time is overdue for other brands to embrace reuse so that we can achieve the low carbon, zero-waste economy that our planet, communities and climate desperately need.”

Alongside other drinks giants, Coca Cola has long come under fire from campaigners for repeatedly missing voluntary targets for recycling and plastic, with research from the Changing Markets Foundation in 2020 highlighting how Coca Cola was yet to come close to achieving a goal established in 1990 of selling 25 per cent of its drinks in recycled plastic bottles.

As it unveiled its new target, Coca Cola pointed to figures from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation which argue that converting 20 per cent of global plastic into reuse models is a $10bn business opportunity.

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