Coca-Cola in recycling U-turn as firm backs Scottish drinks bottle return scheme

The fizzy drink manufacturer previously strongly opposed the idea, arguing that it could negatively impact its business

Zlata Rodionova
Wednesday 22 February 2017 12:00
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Coca-Cola said it remains fully committed to finding new ways to minimise the materials it uses and reduce waste
Coca-Cola said it remains fully committed to finding new ways to minimise the materials it uses and reduce waste

Coca-Cola has thrown its supports behind a deposit return scheme for drinks bottles in Scotland, in an effort to reduce littering and boost recycling that represents a major policy shift for the company.

The deposit return scheme (DRS) is designed to encourage consumers to return their drinks bottles by adding a small refundable charge at sale. The DRS system has already been shown to raise collection rates in Germany, Sweden and Denmark, according to environment campaigners, and is being considered by other countries including Scotland.

The fizzy drink manufacturer previously strongly opposed the idea, arguing that it could negatively impact its business.

However, in a major u-turn for the company, Coca-Cola UK announced it is now supporting the DRS scheme in Scotland.

In a statement sent to the Independent, Coca-Cola UK said : “We have embarked on a major review of our sustainable packaging strategy to understand what role we can play in unlocking the full potential of a circular economy in Great Britain.

“Our sustainable packaging review is ongoing, but it’s already clear from our conversations with experts that the time is right to trial new interventions such as a well-designed deposit return scheme for drinks containers, starting in Scotland where conversations are underway,” the company added.

Coca-Cola said it remains fully committed to finding new ways to minimise the materials it uses, reduce waste and work with other stakeholders to improve recycling rates across Britain.

The announcement was welcomed by environmental charity Greenpeace.

Louise Edge, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “Deposit schemes, which have growing support amongst the public, politicians and industry, can play a key role in reducing the amount of plastic which ends up in our oceans and in landfill.

“Companies like Coca-Cola must have ambitious plans for 100 per cent recycled content and move away from the era of single-use, disposable, plastic. Only by these companies taking responsibility for the end life of the bottles they sell, will we close the loop on the 16 million plastic bottles which are dumped every day in the UK, and go on to pollute our beaches, land and sea.”

Up to 12 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the sea every year, according to Greenpeace.

According to Recycle Now, the national recycling campaign for England, which is funded by the Government, UK households use an average of 480 plastic bottles a year, but recycle just 270 of them.

This means that of the 35 million plastic bottles being used every day, around 16 million are not recycled, and the use of plastic bottles is still growing.

Earlier this month, the Government said it was considering bringing in additional charges for buying plastic bottles in a bid to tackle the quantity of waste taking up space in landfill sites and polluting the sea.

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