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Coca-Cola Pledges To Sell 25% Of Beverages In Returnable, Refillable Bottles

by Rudy Sanchez on 02/11/2022 | 2 Minute Read

Prompted by a proposed shareholder proposal by As You Sow, Coca-Cola has pledged to sell at least a quarter of all its beverages in refillable/returnable bottles or refillable containers through soda fountains, including its Freestyle dispensers by 2030.

Currently, 16% of Coca-Cola’s overall product sales get sold in returnable or refillable bottles. In over 20 markets, returnable glass and refillable PET bottles accounted for more than half of product sales for the Atlanta-based firm. In another 40 markets, refillable/returnable products represented more than 25% of sales.

“We continue to put consumers at the center of all we do,” said Elaine Bowers Coventry, chief customer & commercial officer, The Coca-Cola Company, in an announcement. “One way to do that is by offering sustainable packaging types. Accelerating the use of reusable packages provides added value for consumers and customers while supporting our World Without Waste goal to collect a bottle or can for every one we sell by 2030.”

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Coca-Cola’s pledge to increase returnable and refillable bottles comes on the heels of other Coca-Cola initiatives, including the rollout of its “Universal Bottle” returnable program, which currently runs in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, and Panama. In South Africa, the beverage maker has introduced 1.5L and 2.0L refillable and recyclable PET bottles. Coca-Cola is also a partner with Carrefour in its Loop program and partnered with TerraCycle and Burger King on a reusable packaging pilot. Finally, Coca-Cola has designed smart cups compatible with its Freestyle dispensers across theme parks, university campuses, and cruises.

“Reusable packaging is among the most effective ways to reduce waste, use fewer resources and lower our carbon footprint in support of a circular economy,” Ben Jordan, senior director, packaging, and climate of The Coca-Cola Company, said in the same announcement.

Still, this is a tall order for the beloved beverage maker to accomplish. For the fourth consecutive year, Coca-Cola was named the world's top plastic polluter by Break Free From Plastic's brand audit in 2021. That same audit further suggests that Coca-Cola has made little progress on its World Without Waste pledge.