We recognise the world has a packaging problem and we welcome studies and investigations to help try and solve the issue. Since the creation of CASH Investigation’s episode ‘Plastics, the big intox’ back in mid-2018, The Coca‑Cola Company globally and across Africa has made significant strides.
The plastic pollution problem in one we are committed to help solving. In January 2018 our global CEO, James Quincey, announced an industry-first goal to collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can we sell globally by 2030.
The initiative, ‘World Without Waste’, signals a renewed focus on the entire packaging lifecycle, from how bottles and cans are designed and made, to how they’re recycled and repurposed. Specifically, the goals include:
Our work here in Africa to help create a world without waste
Each of our business units has a plan in place to help achieve our World Without Waste goals—a plan tailored to the realities and unique needs of their local markets. In some countries, the challenges have to do with getting the right collection systems and recycling processing facilities in place. In others, collection and recycling is powered more by people than machines. In those areas, our approach has been to empower and equip the recycling sector.
Across the Southern and East regions of Africa we’ve been working hard on improving the amount of bottles made from recycled material, on formalising collection and recycling efforts, and working with partners to reduce plastic waste, clean-up existing waste and improve recycling to ensure that we meet the targets set out in a World Without Waste.
Here’s a topline look at our progress across Southern and East Africa: (as of September 2019)
Of the equivalent of our packaging (in volume terms) is being collected
Invested in recycling infrastructure and driving the circular economy
3 (SA, Kenya and Ethiopia)
Number of voluntary associations created to managed PET waste (voluntary extended producer responsibility models, such as PETCO)
This is the average percentage of recycled plastic (rPET) we use in our plastic bottles in SA
We work with partners
To reduce litter and improve recycling rates in communities and to keep our bottles and cans out of oceans and landfills. If you’d like to join and help us, please get in touch at email@example.com
Kilograms of rubbish have been removed from waterways and coastlines across Southern and East Africa in this year alone (2019)
Importantly, we are investing into diversifying our packaging options for consumers, with a focus on increasing returnable packaging. For example, in South Africa, we are expanding our returnable glass bottle offerings in different sizes, as well as increasing the use of refillable PET bottles (refPET), which follows the same returnable deposit scheme as glass. Refillable PET bottles can be used multiple times before being recycled into another product.
To find out more about how we are doing this, read further.
Whether it’s using more recycled content; reducing the amount of plastic in bottles through light-weighting; developing plant-based resins; or experimenting with ways to eliminate packaging altogether, we’re investing in our packaging to design better bottles. Our innovation labs are looking for ways to ensure that every bottle has the opportunity of more than one life – whether the materials are used to make another bottle, a t-shirt, a carpet, or furniture. No matter what they become, the reuse of PET bottles should be maximised, while minimising their impact on the environment.
We’ve already implemented improvements in our packaging. Our EcoTwist technology on Bonaqua water bottles uses 12% less PET to allow bottles to be easily compacted and take up less space in the recycling bin. Importantly, we are investing in increasing the amount of recycled PET (rPET) in our beverage bottles. Currently, on average our PET bottles in Africa contain 17% of rPET. We are working on achieving an average of 50% rPET in our bottles by 2030. In this pursuit, we will be launching a 100% rPET bottle for our Bonaqua water brand in South Africa.
There is much debate about the best model to use to encourage the collection and recycling of PET. Recycling rates for PET packaging vary widely around the world. A major driver of the variability is the complex assortment of collection and recycling systems and infrastructure in place.
In Africa, the beverage and packaging industries have come together to promote and finance the recycling of PET plastic. The PET Recycling Company (PETCO), funded by industry through a levy on PET resin and in-aid grants has driven the in-country recycling of PET plastic bottles in South Africa up from 14% in 2005 to over 65% of beverage PET bottles in 2018. This puts South Africa ahead of developed markets, such as the EU (2016: 60%) and US (2016: 28.4%) when it comes to PET collection and recycling rates. We are replicating the PETCO model across Africa.
Coca‑Cola is committed to work in collaboration with all stakeholders to develop a sustainable, holistic approach for the whole PET value chain to ensure efficient and effective waste management of PET packaging material. In Kenya, The Coca‑Cola Company, its bottling partners, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers and other industry players, launched PETCO in Kenya, as a voluntary industry extended producer responsibility scheme in June 2018. This scheme has now also been introduced in Ethiopia. In Tanzania, Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana we have contracted with external recyclers to buy post-consumer PET bottles and incentivise local collectors to recover our packaging.
No one organisation alone can solve the world’s plastic problems. Plastics are ubiquitous and there are numerous types of plastic – PET is just one of many. That’s why we work with our bottling partners, governments, NGOS, communities to help try to address the wider issue of plastics and pollution. Through programmes like regular beach and river clean-ups and other ongoing local activities, we’re supporting collection and recycling efforts at a local level. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach that will work across all markets. Instead, a market-by-market approach helps determine whether existing systems are adequate for increased recycling.
Across Africa, we’ve partnered with organisations that cover the entire life cycle of the package – from suppliers, innovators, collectors, recyclers, NGOs and governments. We partner with organisations such as The Ocean Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and our competitors in our ongoing sustainability efforts.
For example, earlier in the year, with the leadership of our bottling partner Coca‑Cola Beverages Africa, we launched the African Plastics Recycling Alliance with Diageo, Nestle and Unilever to transform plastics recycling infrastructure across sub-Saharan Africa.
Through the Alliance, companies will facilitate and support their local subsidiaries to engage in market-level public-private partnerships (PPPs) and industry collaborations. The Alliance will promote innovation and collaborate on technical solutions to local initiatives that will improve plastics collection and recycling. Companies will also engage with the investment community and policymakers to accelerate the development and financing of waste management infrastructure and systems.
The World Without Waste vision has not only required us to re-imagine how packaging is designed and collected but has fundamentally changed our business model and the way we collaborate for good.
Read our full 2018 World Without Waste Progress Report, or follow us on this site and via our social channels to keep up to date.