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Coca-Cola’s recycling scheme is “PR spin”, say campaigners

On Tuesday (11th July) Coca-Cola announced plans to increase the amount of recycled plastic in its bottles to 50%. By Wednesday (12th July) the move was being heavily criticised by environmental groups.

A lack of detail in the plans, a failure to fully embrace a deposit scheme and limiting the targets to Britain were all seen as major flaws.

Deposit return schemes – in which consumers pay a small deposit when they purchase a product that’s subsequently refunded when the empty container is returned to a collection point – have been backed by a number of environmental groups. They argue that recycling will go up and litter will go down.

However, the packaging industry and wholesalers have suggested the schemes are costly and won’t boost recycling levels (which currently stand at 50% for the 35 million bottles sold every day in Britain).

Coca-Cola is one of the few companies to have broken ranks and come out in (soft) support for a new DRS. “…the time is right to trial new interventions such as a well-designed deposit return scheme for drinks containers”, a spokesperson confirmed recently.

However, the change of heart followed a Sky News story featuring internal documents revealing how the drinks manufacturer had resolved to “fight back” against a DRS.

“This company has a history of making green announcements that sound good but deliver little,” Greenpeace campaigner Louise Edge told the Guardian this week. “Coke’s PR spin on plastic is not ‘the real thing’.”

The Environmental Audit Committee, which this week confirmed that Mary Creagh will remain as chair, is “taking a serious look” at ways to reduce levels of disposable drinks packaging, including bottles and paper cups.