Recognizing the threat of marine plastic litter, The Coca-Cola Company joined with government representatives and industry leaders from around the world to sign onto the Ocean Plastics Charter in Halifax.

Originally adopted by Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the EU at the 2018 G7 Summit, the Ocean Plastics Charter calls on governments, industry and the public to rethink their relationship with plastics.

Unfortunately, many treat plastics as a single-use product, improperly disposing of it in ways that are harmful to the environment. By advocating a lifecycle management approach to this valuable resource, the Ocean Plastics Charter aims to prevent waste and ensure plastics are designed to be recovered so they can be reused or recycled.

"Global challenges like finding solutions to beat plastic pollution and marine litter require bold action ‎from governments, industries and businesses,” said The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “By supporting the Ocean Plastics Charter, The Coca-Cola Company is showing the kind of leadership Canada is encouraging at home and around the world to ensure a healthy and prosperous future for our kids and grandkids."

As an early proponent of recycling, The Coca-Cola Company has worked with partners for decades to build more sustainable packaging and develop more effective recycling programs around the world. Today’s endorsement of the Ocean Plastics Charter signals the Company’s continued commitment to tackling the issue of plastic waste through it’s World Without Waste initiative.

“The Ocean Plastics Charter is an important step in addressing the world’s packaging problem,” said Bruce Karas, vice president of sustainability, Coca-Cola North America. “Everyday thousands of metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans. This charter gives us a framework for future collaboration and sustainable development, two critical pieces if we’re going to succeed in dealing with this important issue.”

World Without Waste

Introduced earlier this year by Coca-Cola’s CEO James Quincey before the World Economic Forum, World Without Waste is a bold strategy that would see the Company collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one it sells by 2030. Additionally, it aims to offer 100% recyclable packaging by 2025 and create packaging with at least 50% recycled material by 2030.

To achieve these ambitious goals, Coca-Cola has broken World Without Waste into three primary pillars: design, collect and partner.

Design

Design means investing in innovation to build better packaging and exploring packaging-free alternatives for delivering Coca-Cola’s beverages.

In the spirit of this innovative approach, The Coca-Cola Company piloted several programs this year looking at packing-free solutions. One example of this is the DASANI PureFill station which was installed on the Georgia Institute of Technology campus in 2017. Offering free, ultra-filtered water with the option of adding flavours or carbonation for a small fee, students and staff have been able to use refillable personal water bottles and cut back on waste.

Collect

To-date The Coca-Cola Company has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in state-of-the-art recycling facilities and partnered to create more effective recovery systems around the world.

In Canada, Coca-Cola and other members of the beverage industry formed the Canadian Beverage Container Recycling Association (CBCRA) to provide a convenient and efficient way to recycle beverage containers in Manitoba. Since the CBCRA’s founding in 2010, the province’s recovery rate for beverage containers increased from 42% to 70% in just six years. This dramatic increase resulted in Manitoba becoming the most improved jurisdiction in that period for beverage container recovery.

Partner

Though there is still a lot of work to be done, no one organization can fix this plastic waste problem on their own. That’s why The Coca-Cola Company partners with organizations in countries around the world to help educate and inform consumers as well as promote and encourage the growth of marine litter prevention programs.

Since 2010, Coca-Cola Canada has supported the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup hosted by Ocean Wise and WWF-Canada. This annual event sees Canadians go out into their communities to collect litter. Since Coca-Cola Canada’s participation began, associates from coast-to-coast have collected over 40 tons of waste and cleaned over 200 km of shoreline.

Plastics are a vital part of our modern world, unfortunately maintaining the status quo in our approach to them is unsustainable.

The Ocean Plastics Charter suggests a renewed approach to this resource, viewing it in terms of a continuous lifecycle. Only through commitment and collaboration, can governments and companies like Coca-Cola hope to address the issue of marine plastic litter.

“At Coca-Cola, we care about the world’s oceans and waterways and the natural resources we all share,” added Bruce. “It is unacceptable that packages end up in the wrong place, littering the communities where we live and work and the Ocean Plastics Charter is a great step forward to making the world’s packaging problem a thing of the past.”

To read more about how The Coca-Cola Company is taking action to achieve its World Without Waste goals, please visit the Company’s 2017 Sustainability Report.