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Coca Cola wants to recycle all its plastic waste — sort of

SendToGlass/Flickr Creative Commons
SendToGlass/Flickr Creative Commons

Coca Cola says it wants its ubiquitous plastic bottles to be recycled — and the company wants to help you do it.

But it doesn’t seem to be making this easy.

Despite its recently announced “Every Bottle Back” initiative and its programs to make bottles entirely out of recycled plastic, the company also seems dead-set on shutting down bottle deposits.

According to leaked audio published by The Intercept from an Atlanta meeting about plastic recycling, local nonprofits that were funded by Coca Cola said their financing would dry up if they backed a “bottle bill” that adds a deposit to the bottle to ensure it gets taken in to the local recycling center.

Although bottle deposits have been widely proven effective in encouraging recycling, critics allege that Coca Cola has opposed them because these laws usually require the manufacturer to bear some of the costs.

Coca Cola bottles, it turns out, are the world’s most prevalent type of discarded plastic.

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In countries like the Maldives, the problem is so serious that empty Coke bottles litter the its seashore and city streets, costing more than a $1 million annually to clean up.

The government there is moving to ban single-use plastic, and implemented a bottle bill that has seen 80 percent of bottles returned, despite a lack of cooperation from the Coca Cola company.

In the United States, progress is sluggish at best.

Only ten states even have bottle bills — and with China’ decision to no longer recycle American plastics, U.S. cities are scrambling to manage the glut of plastic.

Sources: The Intercept, Environment+Energy Leader

Mark A. Bonta

Cultural geographer and educator Mark A. Bonta covers ecology, democracy, local self-reliance and community-based solutions to global problems.
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