This article originally appeared on VICE India.
Somewhere between micro-plastics slipping their way into almost everything we sink our teeth into and the rise in the amount of aquatic life getting affected by plastic pollution, single-use plastics just stopped making sense.
However, Coca-Cola, the beverages giant that was called out for being the world’s most polluting brand in plastic waste in a global audit, clearly doesn’t seem to agree. They have refused to give up their signature single-use plastic bottles because apparently “customers still want them.”
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the firm's sustainability officer Bea Perez said that customers appreciated their light-weight and resealable bottles and claimed that to switch to using aluminium or glass at this stage would not only apparently somehow “increase their carbon footprint” but also affect sales. “Business won't be in business if we don't accommodate consumers," she said. "So as we change our bottling infrastructure, move into recycling and innovate, we also have to show the consumer what the opportunities are. They will change with us."
While the firm has pledged to recycle as many plastic bottles as it uses by 2030, environmentalists argue that the company that produces more than three million tonnes of plastic (200,000 bottles a minute) probably won’t be able to pick up all the polluters it puts out there.
Now, environmental advocates are furious and view this stance as a surface-level commitment that they interpret as Coca-Cola’s refusal to take responsibility and clean up the mess it created in the first place. Even as Perez maintains that the firm wants to be “part of the solution”, Sian Sutherland of A Plastic Planet campaign group said the company was shirking responsibility for the 120 billion plastic Coke bottles that pollute our planet every year. She added that Coca-Cola should not rely on customer feedback and lead the way for sustainable packaging. “Do they really think the public enjoy seeing beaches and landfills covered in plastic waste, killing marine life and degrading into toxic microplastics that are now in our food?” asked Sutherland.
Meanwhile, Von Hernandez from Break Free From Plastic said, “Their continued reliance on single-use plastic packaging translates to pumping more throwaway plastic into the environment. Recycling is not going to solve this problem.”
Basically, everyone feels like Coca-Cola is that toxic ex that keeps dumping your ass, then apologises and promises to never do it again, only to justify the recurring bad behaviour by saying they can’t change their personality because their friends like them just as they are. Perez has responded to calls for Coca-Cola to reach its environmental goals sooner than 2030 by promising to follow through, yet remaining cryptic when asked whether she would step down if the plans backfired, maintaining, "We have to reach this goal and we will—there's no question."
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