Coca-Cola should commit to refillable and reusable bottles

Coca-Cola, the world's biggest plastic polluter, has committed to using refillable bottles. But as of now, not in the U.S.

Large pile of single-use plastic bottles
Huguette Roe |

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It wasn’t all that long ago that refillable bottles were the norm. 

But in recent decades, they’ve been replaced by flimsy plastic bottles — the kind meant to be discarded after a single use, rather than returned and reused over and over again.

As the world’s biggest plastic polluter, Coca-Cola has committed to using refillable bottles. But as of now, you won’t find them in the U.S.

Coca-Cola leads the world in single-use plastic pollution 

Comb through the sand at any beach, or the ground at any park or alongside any waterway, and you’ll likely spot at least one of those bright red bottle caps. The most recent surveys show that more of those red caps and other of Coca-Cola’s plastic products are ending up as litter every year — in 2022, researchers found more than three times the number that they identified in 2018.

Coca-Cola has long defended its title as the planet’s top plastic polluter. In fact, according to a 2022 survey, Coca-Cola has been named the worst plastic polluter for five consecutive years.

The company claims to want “Every Bottle Back.” That’s more than 100 billion plastic bottles every year.

Thankfully, there’s a sure-fire way to get those bottles back and keep them out of the environment: Make them reusable and refillable.

We’re telling Coca-Cola to commit to refillable and reusable bottles

To the company’s credit, Coca-Cola committed in 2022 to sell 25% of its beverages worldwide in refillable containers. The problem is that their commitment does not extend to Coke’s largest market — the United States.

That’s a big problem, too, because America is a super-sized generator of plastic waste. With only 4% of the world’s population, in a single year Americans were responsible for 17% of the world’s plastic waste.

We know that refillable and reusable bottles work. In fact, they used to be the norm when it came to soda packaging. It’s time they made a return.

Coca-Cola has been the world’s biggest plastic polluter for too long. By utilizing refillable and reusable bottles here in the U.S., Coca-Cola can become an industry leader in plastic waste reduction.

We need to tell Coca-Cola: Commit to at least 25% refillable bottles in the U.S.