Coca-Cola bottler will be up against green gauntlet

Coca-Cola bottler will be up against green gauntlet

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JOHANNESBURG – ENVIRONMENTALISTS will be keeping a keen eye on the plastic waste initiatives of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA), which plans to soon list on the JSE and in Amsterdam.

An initial public offering will pave the way for CCBA to operate as an independent Africa-focused, South African-head-quartered, managed and domiciled business.

Global bottling giant Coca-Cola Company, which in April announced plans to list its CCBA unit, said turning off the tap on plastic pollution was a priority as it aims to make all its consumer packaging 100 percent recyclable globally by 2025, and reduce its carbon footprint.

Coca-Cola, which emerged as the number one Top Global Polluter, according to the 2020 Break Free From Plastic survey, said it also aimed to use at least 50 percent recycled material in its packaging by 2030.

Through its World Without Waste initiative, the Coca Cola Company said it was committed to invest in the planet and packaging, and to help make the world’s packaging problem a thing of the past.

“The Coca-Cola Company and its bottlers are leading the industry with a bold, ambitious goal: to help collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one we sell by 2030.

“We are supporting local governments’ waste management objectives by making recycling more accessible and to achieve 100 percent collection and recycling by 2030. Coca-Cola Beverages Africa is confident that we will achieve this goal ahead of the 2030 target,” a Coca-Cola Company spokesperson said.

“This is part of our larger strategy to grow with conscience as we become a total beverage company,” the company said.

Plastics have become a major scourge on the environment with many littering the oceans, and blocking drainage.

In South Africa, more than 2 billion single-use plastic bags are used every year, with half of all plastic produced designed to be used only once and then thrown away, and usually ending up in either landfills or being consumed by marine species, according to Greenpeace.

The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives’ Africa regional co-ordinator, Niven Reddy, said it was essential that CCBA, along with other plastic producers, started to rethink their

packaging model. Reddy said it was not good enough to just place emphasis on recycling, because that alone was not enough.

“They should be finding systems that attempt to replace packaging altogether, so the best thing for CCBA to start doing is to implement refillable and deposit systems that incentivise people to bring their own containers, or return them once they have consumed the liquid contained in the bottles since, ultimately, that is what the consumer is purchasing: the product and not the packaging,” Reddy said.

Climate change activists have been placing pressure on the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries to take action against the plastic pollution crisis in South Africa by adopting stricter measures to cut down production of non-essential single-use plastic.

“We support the Department’s efforts to limit land-filling, but they need to take more drastic steps and ban problematic and non-essential single-use plastics if we are ever to defeat the growing plastic pollution crisis,” said Angelo Louw, Greenpeace Africa Pan-African Plastic Project Lead.

“It is time to hold companies to account for what they put into the marketplace, without consideration of their products’ end-of-life management.”

Greenpeace Africa, groundWork and other Break Free From Plastic partners have called on the department to take measures that will ensure greater accountability for companies that manufacture and sell plastic products in South Africa.

They have asserted that producers have a responsibility to reduce plastic production at source, and to find alternative delivery channels that will ensure a sustainable future and an end to the plastic pollution crisis.

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