Coca-Cola targets plastic waste with vow to make bottles 50% recycled

Coca-Cola says its bottles will contain an average of 50% recycled content by 2030, in a bid to help make plastic waste "a thing of the past".

The move comes as the drinks giant acknowledged it has a responsibility to "help solve" global packaging waste.

It follows a pledge by water brand Evian this week to make all its bottles from 100% recycled plastic by 2025.

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Coca-Cola also said it aims to collect one bottle or can for every one it sells, in an attempt to recycle the equivalent of 100% of its packaging by 2030 to help tackle litter and marine debris.

But the plans have been heavily criticised by environmental group Greenpeace, which said they have "fallen flat" as the goal fails to address the "urgency of ocean plastic pollution".

The group is calling on the beverage manufacturer to fund alternatives to single-use plastics, of which it produces 110 billion bottles each year.

James Quincey, president and chief executive of The Coca-Cola Company, said: "The world has a packaging problem - and, like all companies, we have a responsibility to help solve it.

"Bottles and cans shouldn't harm our planet and a litter-free world is possible."

He added: "Companies like ours must be leaders. Consumers around the world care for our planet, and they want and expect companies to take action.

"That's exactly what we're going to do and we invite others to join us on this critical journey."

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The announcement is part of Coca-Cola's World Without Waste initiative, part of which aims to make 100% of its packaging recyclable.

The firm said it will work with the World Wildlife Fund and environmental groups to increase its recycling efforts.

Greenpeace welcomed the firm's plans to increase recycled content in its bottles from the current 7%.

But it said the scheme was not as ambitious as Coca-Cola UK, which announced last year that it would increase the content of recycled material in its bottles to 50% by 2020.

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Tisha Brown, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: "The massive increase in plastic waste in our oceans, and increasingly in our food chain, is a result of our dependency on throwaway items like single-use plastic bottles.

"Support for recycling is important but it won't solve the ocean plastic problem. Coke need to follow the lead of companies like Iceland and massively reduce the amount of plastic they are using and on that front this plan has fallen flat.

"A litter-free world is possible - but only if big companies like Coke stop producing ever-growing quantities of plastic litter. They need to reduce and reuse as well as recycle."

Last week, the environmental organisation delivered a petition backed by almost 600,000 signatures to Coca-Cola offices around the world, calling on the firm to address its plastic footprint.

"Through our World Without Waste vision, we are investing in our planet and our packaging to help make this problem a thing of the past," Mr Quincey said.