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World Ocean Day 2022: Coca-Cola UK to Alter its Plastic Bottle Design to Maximise Recovery and Recycling

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Oceans comprise 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and contain 97 percent of all the water on the planet. Oceans have a huge impact on temperature and weather because of their massive size. They are essential for the survival of both humans and other species. Oceans host a diverse range of flora and wildlife, as well as a high level of biodiversity.
World Oceans Day is marked every year on June 8 in an effort to conserve the water body via collective efforts and save it from the risks of human activity. The day is commemorated to highlight the importance of oceans in maintaining life on Earth and to encourage people to take action to protect them.

World Oceans Day 2022

‘Revitalisation: Collective Action for the Ocean’ is the theme for World Oceans Day 2022. The ocean, as a vital thread that connects us all, must be protected through appropriate methods. It must be ensured that the ocean is not harmed but rather rejuvenated.

Beverage Companies Responsible for Ocean Pollution

It is widely known that discarded soda bottles are majorly responsible for plastic pollution in the ocean. Major conglomerates such as Coca-Cola have been held responsible for this pollution. Following which they have invested millions in managing the waste in the ocean, reducing it and focus on recycling the waste generated by them.

The Case of Left-Behind Caps

The beverage companies have been making worthy efforts to ensure that the soda bottles and can they produce, eventually return to the source for further recycling and processing. However, one thing that is often left behind is the cap of the said bottle.
It has been noted that a majority of the times, persons consuming these beverages tend to discard the cap while they are finishing off the last of the remaining liquid in the bottle. Later on, while the bottle turns up for recycling, the caps lay discarded in the sea, adding to the ocean pollution. Caps are thus harder to recover for recycling.

Coca-Cola’s New Bottle Design to Leave no Caps Behind

Coca-Cola has recognized the case of left behind caps of its beverage bottles. With an aim to ensure recovery of its caps, it has decided to change the design of all of its PET bottles. The new bottles of beverages by the Coca-Cola company will have the caps attached to the bottle. This way, the consumers do not lose them, and when the bottle turns up for recycling, so does the cap. The announcement of this was made by the United Kingdom branch of the company, where it will first be implemented before the rest of the world.
Plastic bottles of Coke, Coke Zero Sugar, Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Dr Pepper should all have attached caps by early 2024, the company has said.
“This is a small change that we hope will have a big impact, ensuring that when consumers recycle our bottles, no cap gets left behind,” said Jon Woods, general manager at Coca-Cola Great Britain has said in a statement.
Coke’s recent step in the United Kingdom is part of the business’s global “World Without Waste” initiative, which sets a target of collecting and recycling empty bottles or cans for every one the company sells by 2030. It also intends to use 50 percent recycled material in its cans and bottles by 2030, and to make all packaging 100 percent recyclable by 2025.

A Thoughtful Effort – But no Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The effort made by the company to change the design altogether to recover more waste for recycling is indeed thoughtful. However, does this take away the production of the said plastic waste?
It has been recommended by the environment and sustainability experts that in order to reduce the damage to the environment, the waste management needs to be executed effectively. To achieve this, the 3R’s mantra needs to be followed i.e., Reduce – Reuse – Recycle. For this, the company first needs to reduce the production of plastic waste, by producing more reusable containers, and ensure that they are being reused.
Graham Forbes, global plastics project lead at Greenpeace USA has said, “Whether their plastic caps are tethered or not, the company still produces billions of throwaway plastic bottles every year, harming our environment, our communities and our climate, and impacting our health.”
“If they truly want to solve the plastic and climate crisis, Coca-Cola must focus on reducing plastic by doubling its reuse and refill packaging target to 50% by 2030,” said Forbes.