Plastic bottles are a recycling disaster. Coca-Cola should have known better

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Media Outlet: The Guardian

Bart Elmore wrote for The Guardian about Coca-Cola's plastic bottles and the company's massive ecological footprint:

The Coca-Cola Company produced more than 100bn plastic bottles in 2016, Greenpeace claimed last month. This is troubling news, considering how much of the waste ends up outside plastic recycling systems. Separately it has been estimated that, on current trends, by 2050 the plastic in our oceans may weigh more than all the fish.
In this debate about waste, Coca-Cola has long been the target of environmentalists. After all, it has a massive ecological footprint that few companies can match – and packaging is just part of the story. Beyond the billions of plastic bottles, Coke places heavy demands on the Earth. As early as the 1920s, the company boasted that it was the largest consumer of sugar cane on the planet. It also soon claimed to be the world’s biggest buyer of processed caffeine. Today, at its bottling plants it uses more than 300bn litres of water a year. Its total water footprint, needed to grow sugar cane and all the other ingredients, is 100 times greater.

Author:

Bartow Elmore is an Eric & Wendy Schmidt Fellow at New America. He is an assistant professor of environmental history at The Ohio State University and a member of their Sustainable and Resilient Economy Discovery Group.