Coca-Cola to double use of recycled plastic in PET bottles to 50%

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Pet bottles Recycling Coca-cola Sustainability Coca-cola company

Coca-Cola has announced a new set of sustainability commitments in Western Europe: saying it will ensure all packaging is recyclable or reusable; and aiming to collect 100% of its packaging. It will also use 50% recycled plastic in its PET bottles and work on developing new sustainable packaging materials.

Greenpeace UK says the commitments are 'encouraging': but that more immediate action is needed ahead of 2025, when most of the targets are set for. 

The commitments are part of new sustainability action plan 'This is Forward' from the Coca-Cola Company in Western Europe and Coca-Cola European Partners.

“This is Forward sets out how we will address some of the biggest issues in society by using their business and brands as a force for good, and with impact to meet complex global challenges,”​ say the companies.

Coca-Cola European Partners cover Great Britain, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

There are three priority areas: drinks, packaging and society.

Packaging: collection targets

To ensure that no packaging ends up as litter or in the oceans, Coca-Cola will aim to collect 100% of its packaging.

It says it will do this by working with local and national partners, and use the reach of its brands ‘to inspire everyone to recycle’.

The commitments also pledge to double the use of recycled plastic for PET bottles to at least 50%: an increase from 21% in 2016, and ensure all packaging is recyclable or reusable by 2025.

“We’re leading the way in pioneering sustainable packaging – including renewable materials and smart new ways to reduce packaging waste,”​ add the companies.

Greenpeace UK has welcomed the collection targets but adds that protecting the ocean is a global issue and thus awaits the global sustainability strategy for more information on this. 

“It’s encouraging that Coca-Cola have finally accepted responsibility for their plastic footprint, but 2025 is far too long a time frame to ensure that all of their packaging is 100% recyclable or reusable," ​said Oceans Campaigner Tisha Brown.

"By that time 100 million additional tonnes of plastic will have entered our oceans, and our marine ecosystems just can’t stomach anymore plastic.

"We welcome their commitment to collect 100% of their packaging and look forward to seeing an action plan that includes reduction alongside support for progressive legislation like deposit return schemes. Most importantly, there are no border controls in the ocean, and so to deal with a global problem we need to see a stronger action plan in their forthcoming global sustainability strategy.”

Greenpeace UK says that Coca-Cola produces an estimated 100 billion throwaway plastic bottles every year, calling on the soft drinks giant to reduce its plastic footprint.

In July Coca-Cola European Partners announced its 50% rPET by 2020 target for its bottles in Great Britain,​ also pledging to ‘champion reform’ of the packaging recycling system to encourage more people to recycle.

But Greenpeace responded to say that 100% recycled content should be ‘completely realistic’. 

Low calorie drinks

Coca-Cola pledges to offer more choice to consumers: by 2025, 50% of sales will come from low or no calorie drinks; an increase from 35% in 2016.

Coca-Cola will further reduce sugar across the soft drinks portfolio by at least 10% by 2020, in addition to the 5% reduction achieved in the previous five years.

“We’ll make it easier for consumers to cut down on sugar with straightforward product information and smaller pack sizes,”​ add the companies.

Empowering women and young people

Coca-Cola will increase the number of local community partnerships it runs and supports, as well as increasing the contribution employees make through volunteering. Coca-Cola says it will focus on empowering young people and women, and will ensure at least 40% of management roles are held by women by 2025.

This is Forward has been developed through consultation with more than 100 stakeholders, governments, NGOs and customers, using insights from over 12,000 consumers across six countries and almost 1,000 Coca-Cola employees in Western Europe, says Coca-Cola. The full report can be found here.​ 


The priority actions will be underpinned by three supporting actions on climate, water and supply chain:

> To cut greenhouse gas emissions from the core business by 50%

> To replenish 100% of the water used in areas of water stress

> To make sure 100% of main agricultural ingredients and raw materials come from sustainable sources by 2020

Picture credit: John Donges/Flickr:creative commons licence​.

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