Greenpeace slams Coca-Cola plastic announcement as ‘dodging the main issue’

Publication date: 19th January 2018

More plastic production means more ocean plastic pollution

Greenpeace today criticised Coca Cola’s new global plastics plan for failing to address the urgency of ocean plastic pollution.

The long awaited policy from the world’s largest soft drinks company featured a series of measures weaker than those previously announced for Europe and the UK.

The plan failed to include any reduction of the company’s rapidly increasing use of single-use plastic bottles globally, which now stands at well over 110 billion annually.

The plan contrasts starkly with pledges to reduce the use of disposable plastic made by many retailers in recent weeks. The announcement made by Iceland on Tuesday that it will become the first major retailer globally to eliminate single-use plastic packaging throughout its own brand products within 5 years set the level of ambition needed. Iceland’s comprehensive solution, that removes the problem rather than just trying to manage it, was praised by the Prime Minister in the Commons.

Tisha Brown, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace UK said –

“The massive increase in plastic waste in our oceans, and increasingly in our food chain, is a result of our dependency on throwaway items like single-use plastic bottles.

“Support for recycling is important but it won’t solve the ocean plastic problem. Coke need to follow the lead of companies like Iceland and massively reduce the amount of plastic they are using, and on that front this plan has fallen flat.

“A litter free world is possible – but only if big companies like Coke stop producing ever growing quantities of plastic litter. They need to reduce and reuse as well as recycle.”

Coca-Cola produces over 110 billion single use plastic bottles each year, and billions of these end up in landfills, rivers, and the sea.

Greenpeace estimates that Coke has increased its number of single-use plastic bottles by nearly a third (31%) since 2008 and that they now account for almost 70% of Coke’s packaging globally [1]. Today’s announcement revealed no plans that would reverse this trend.

Greenpeace welcomed the announcement that Coke will be increasing the recycled content of its single-use plastic bottles from the current paltry 7% to 50% globally by 2030, although it is less ambitious than Coke UK’s target of 50% by 2020 and Coke Europe’s target of 50% by 2025. Greenpeace has been calling on Coke to move to 100% recycled content.

And while Coke now backs Deposit Return Schemes in the UK, following pressure from environmental groups [2], the company has not announced a similar policy change at a global level and remains opposed to schemes in many other countries, including Canada, the Netherlands, and Israel.

Greenpeace is urging Coca Cola to make firm commitments to cut its plastic production by investing in alternatives to single-use plastic bottles, including committing to expand its use of new delivery methods such as Freestyle dispensers and self-serve water stations with reusable containers [3].

Greenpeace launched a global campaign on Coke in April 2017, involving supporters from five continents.

Last week, Greenpeace delivered a petition signed by more than 585,000 people urging Coke to reduce its plastic footprint.




Greenpeace UK Press Office or 020 7865 8255

Graham Thompson 07801 212 960


  1. 68% in 2016 sustainability report

According to research by the Guardian newspaper approximately one million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute – and almost half of them are thrown away after a single use, ending up in landfill, in incinerators, and in the oceans.

Plastic bottles and bottle tops are consistently one of the largest sources of ocean plastic pollution found in beach clean ups around the world.