Coca-Cola Is Making Major Recycling Improvements This Summer

Single-use plastics are a hot-button issue in the fight for sustainability and stricter environmental standards. As a result, new legislation is increasingly circumscribing their uses. Earlier this month, California passed a law that placed significant restrictions on single-use plastics, mandating a 25% decrease in use by 2032, per The Guardian.

The National Conference of State Legislature notes that single-use plastics were already banned in eight states by February 2021. In light of this backdrop, consumers should rejoice in a recent announcement by The Coca-Cola Company. The company announced that DASANI is switching to "100% recycled PET plastic" (rPET) bottles with the exclusion of labels and caps. Coca-Cola estimates that the move for DASANI will cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 25,000 metric tons next year — making a significant dent in the charge to reduce the environmentally harmful emissions. The move will also prevent millions of pounds of plastic from being produced.

The Coca-Cola Company also announced a change in the color of Sprite's plastic bottles; they will be clear instead of the "signature green color" that has long distinguished them. The announcement indicates that the green plastic bottles were recyclable in the past, but the color limited both their recyclable uses and the number of times they could be recycled. The new clear bottle will change that.

The company is setting a few sustainable goals

Coca-Cola has been one of the worst plastics polluters in recent years, per Reuters, so the announcement of 100% PET plastic for its DASANI brand seems praiseworthy. After all, as Packaging in Europe notes, recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles are known for their low carbon footprint. Coca-Cola has committed to rPET plastic for "a majority" of DASANI bottles in the U.S. and all bottles in Canada, per the latest press release. Sprite shifts to clear PET plastic on August 1.

Among those not heaping praise for Coca-Cola, however, is Greenpeace's plastics project leader Kate Melges. "Coca-Cola's recent announcement is yet another blatant greenwashing attempt from one of the world's worst plastic polluters," she told NPR about the Sprite switch. "We are in the midst of a massive plastic pollution crisis, and we cannot recycle our way out of it."

Yet, Coca-Cola is making strides in terms of sustainability. The company pledged to achieve 25% reusable packaging for all its brands by 2030. Improving upon the 16% mark reached in 2020, Coca-Cola has also set a goal to make its "primary consumer packaging recyclable by 2025." The company's latest announcement also confirms that Sprite will not be the only Coca-Cola brand to discontinue green plastic bottles. Brands like Fresca, Mello Yello, and Seagram's are expected to switch to clear PET plastic in North America within the next several months, per Coca-Cola.