Coca-Cola, Nestlé, PepsiCo pledge to reduce packaging, recycle waste after ‘top polluter' tag

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 25 2019 05:03 PM | Updated as of Oct 25 2019 05:44 PM

MANILA - Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and PepsiCo vowed to reduce packaging and recycle waste, after they were named top “plastic polluters” by environmental network Break Free From Plastic.

The network’s second brand audit, released in the Philippines last Wednesday, is based on the 470,000 pieces of plastic collected by their volunteers from various clean-up events in over 50 countries. 

Coca-Cola, in a report posted by Adweek, said it was working to address the problem.

“Anytime our packaging ends up in our oceans, or anywhere that it doesn’t belong, is unacceptable to us,” Coca-Cola said in a statement to Adweek, adding that it will help prevent plastic waste from entering the oceans. The world’s largest non-alcoholic beverage company also said it will help clean up the “existing pollution.”

Besides using bottles that are partly made from recycled ocean debris, Coca-Cola said it plans to recover 100 percent of their cans and bottles by 2030. It also pledged to make its packaging fully recyclable and partially made from recycled content by 2025.

REDUCING PACKAGING

In a statement sent to ABS-CBN, Nestle Philippines acknowledged the report and the challenge of packaging and plastic waste.

“As the world’s largest food and beverage company, we know we have an important role to play in shaping sustainable solutions to tackle the issue of plastics waste,” Nestle said. “It is completely unacceptable for that packaging to end up as litter in the environment and we are working hard to make all of our packaging either recyclable or reusable by 2025.”

The company said it is reducing the amount of its packaging (in terms of size or thickness) or removing packaging altogether. It said it also has timelines to remove non-recyclable plastics.

“We continue to explore multiple plastic collection schemes,” said Nestlé Philippines Chairman and CEO Kais Marzouki.

In the Philippines, Nestle said it has incentivized the collection of plastic sachets and beverage cartons in 33 villages in Valenzuela City. Similar programs have been started in other provinces. Collected waste is then turned into eco-bricks, chairs or recycled paper.

PepsiCo told ABS-CBN that it will reduce 35 percent of its virgin plastic for their beverage product line. The company also promised to make all of its packaging 100 percent recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025.

“Changing the way society makes, uses, and disposes of packaging is a complex challenge and we’re playing our part. We want to help build a system where plastic packaging never becomes waste,” PepsiCo said.

Earlier this week, Von Hernandez, global coordinator of Break Free From Plastic movement, criticized the multi-national companies for choosing to package their products in single-use plastic that were either non-recyclable or are not collected for recycling. 

RECYCLED OCEAN DEBRIS

Greenpeace earlier warned against “greenwashing” or employing solutions that may have negative effects on the environment, such as shifting to paper and bioplastics as packaging.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia regional campaign coordinator Abigail Aguilar said bio-based plastic made from corn and other plants do not necessarily decompose. 

“It still does not shift the thinking of having a throwaway culture,” Aguilar said. 

She said there must be a better business model that also encourages sustainability.