Coca Cola's Plastic Clean Up Efforts Are a Sham, Says Greenpeace

By Shabana Arif on at

Coca Cola has announced a new $11 million initiative to clean up rivers around the world, but Greenpeace is calling bullshit.

The program sees the huge corporation team up with the Benioff Ocean Initiative at the University of California Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute to co-fund nine river clean-up programs across Asia, Africa, North America, and South America.

"This is an important global partnership for a truly global challenge – cleaning up some of the world’s most polluted rivers and identifying new ways to prevent plastic waste from entering our rivers and oceans," said Helen Smith Price, president of The Coca-Cola Foundation, which is a tad ironic given that the company's brands have been identified as the worst polluters following cleanup efforts. Of course, you can't control the recycling and littering habits of consumers, but with the search for alternative packaging going on by fast food chains and supermarkets, the lack of any movement on this front has riled up Greenpeace.

"It is the first month of 2020 and Coca-Cola has already redoubled its efforts to keep plastic in production and distract customers with more cleanup efforts," said Greenpeace USA Plastics Campaigner Kate Melges. "Coca-Cola has been named the worst plastic polluter following global cleanups and brand audits for two years in a row. Rather than commit to reducing its massive plastic footprint, the company wants people to believe it can capture this waste before it enters our oceans. This is as foolish as it sounds.

“Coca-Cola has spent decades and millions of dollars selling the world on the false notion that we can simply recycle or clean up its plastic pollution. That is a lie and people will no longer tolerate companies placing the onus on us to clean up their mess. If Coca-Cola is serious about addressing the plastic pollution crisis, it is time for the company to prove it by phasing out single-use plastics and moving toward systems of reuse.”

Melges has a point, but I'm pretty sure the people in the regions that will benefit from the new program will be more pleased about the news than she is.

Coca cola's World Without Waste strategy is geared towards recycling and behavioural-change projects, and calls for "greater collaboration between business, governments, charitable organisations, researchers and NGOs to make this happen."

It's a step in a positive direction - even if Greenpeace thinks that it's not the right one.

Feature image credit: Unsplash