In 2016, Coca-Cola produced more than 110 billion single-use plastic bottles, according to a new analysis by Greenpeace.
Though no one company is to blame for a number of plastic bottles piling up in landfills, Coca-Cola certainly holds a fair share of the responsibility. According to a new analysis by Greenpeace, the world’s biggest soft drinks company increased its production of single-use PET bottles from 2015-2015 by more than one billion. This puts Coke’s total production in 2016 at more than 110 billion.
The Guardian reports that Coca-Cola confirmed the finding that single-use plastic bottles make up 59 percent of its global packaging in 2016, compared to 58 percent just one year prior. This is a staggering realization, as figures suggest that by 2021, the number of plastic bottles produced every year, worldwide, will reach more than half a trillion.
Reportedly, only a fraction of the 110 billion plastic bottles which were produced was recycled. Fewer than 50 percent that was brought in during 2016 were recycled, and just 7 percent of those collected were turned into new bottles. Per usual, the majority ended up in landfills — 80 percent of which typically ends up in the oceans.
According to a research by Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish by the year 2050. This is a big deal — one that could be easily prevented. Every year, between 5 million and 13 million tons of plastic finds its way in the world’s oceans. Because plastic takes thousands of years to fully decompose, it slowly breaks down and is oftentimes ingested by wildlife. This, in turn, results in millions of wild animal deaths each year.
Said Louise Edge, the oceans campaigner for Greenpeace: “Coca-Cola talks the talk on sustainability but the astonishing rate at which it is pumping out single-use plastic bottles is still growing. We have calculated it produced over 110bn throwaway plastic bottles every year – an astounding 3,400 a second – while refusing to take responsibility for its role in the plastic pollution crisis facing our oceans.”
Edge added, “We would love Coke to provide detailed breakdowns of what it produces – so we would welcome any clarifications they have to offer on our estimates.”
Coca-Cola previously expressed support for a plastic bottle deposit scheme but has since changed its mind. Reportedly, the company “is calling for collaborative efforts from government and industry to improve recycling rates,” reports The Guardian.
The company operates in more than 200 countries and is the leading soft-drink provider. Though Coca-Cola European Partners announced in July that it would increase the amount of recycled plastic in its bottles to 50 percent by 2020, additional effort is required. It is time to phase out single-use plastic — which includes plastic bottles — to benefit the environment and curb climate change. If Coca-Cola won’t lead the revolution, other companies will.