Earlier this year the carbonated water company Coca-Cola conceded that it produces 3m tonnes of plastic packaging a year — roughly 300m a day.
Those figures relate to 2017. The company did not reveal the scale of its bottle production — an understandable silence — but when its packaging footprint is translated into 500ml plastic bottles, it amounts to about 108bn bottles a year, more than a fifth of the world’s annual PET bottle output of about 500bn — a growing Everest of plastic waste.
The company has recognised this is unsustainable and will roll out more sustainable packaging beginning in Ireland and Poland. From early next year, multipacks of canned beverages will no longer be shrink-wrapped. Coca-Cola says its ‘KeelClip’ innovation will cut 250 tonnes of shrink-wrap plastic a year on the island of Ireland. This is to be welcomed, but it is just a drop in our increasingly polluted oceans.
It is important to acknowledge that Coca-Cola is just one of many, many companies producing spectacular quantities of the plastic waste having such a negative impact on our seas.
However, a fundamental truth remains. If we did not buy goods wrapped in plastic, the market, that all-powerful force, would find alternatives.
If we expect these companies to change maybe we should expect the same of ourselves. So, give the environment a gift for Christmas and only buy goods wrapped in plastic when there is absolutely no alternative.