The Coca-Cola corporation recently announced that they were able to make a few plastic bottles out of trash that was pulled from the ocean. In a press release, the company said that the creation of 300 sample bottles made from ocean trash was intended to demonstrate that “one day, even ocean debris could be used in recycled packaging for food or drinks.”
The press release explained that:
The marine plastic bottle has been developed to show the transformational potential of revolutionary ‘enhanced recycling’ technologies, which can recycle previously used plastics of any quality back to the high-quality needed for food or drinks packaging. Enhanced recycling technologies use innovative processes that break down the components of plastic and strip out impurities in lower-grade recyclables so they can be rebuilt as good as new. This means that lower-grade plastics that were often destined for incineration or landfill can now be given a new life. It also means more materials are available to make recycled content, reducing the amount of virgin PET needed from fossil fuels, and resulting in a lower carbon footprint.
The statement suggested that this was the first time that a company has successfully recycled ocean trash for use in food or drink packages. However, the bottle is not entirely made of recycled plastic, just 25% of its contents are from the ocean. Still, the company says that this breakthrough technology is a step forward in the realm of recycling.
Bruno van Gompel, Technical and Supply Chain Director, Coca-Cola Western Europe, said that, “Enhanced recycling technologies are enormously exciting, not just for us but for industry and society at large. They accelerate the prospect of a closed-loop economy for plastic, which is why we are investing behind them. As these begin to scale, we will see all kinds of used plastics returned, as good as new, not just once but again and again, diverting waste streams from incineration and landfill.”
The technology was developed on behalf of Coca-Cola by a company called Ioniqa Technologies, a clean-tech spinoff from the Eindhoven University of Technology.
Tonnis Hooghoudt, CEO of Ioniqa Technologies, predicts that, “The impact of enhanced recycling will be felt on a global scale: by working with Coca-Cola and Indorama to produce this bottle, we aim to show what this technology can deliver. Our new plant is now operational and we are bringing this technology to scale. In doing so, we aim to eliminate the concept of single use plastic and plastic waste altogether.”
This all seems like a noble effort on the surface, but the Coca-Cola corporation is certainly a day late and a buck short in making amends for how much they have contributed to the plastic pollution problem. Just this year, the company was ranked as the worst plastic polluter in the world for the second year in a row, along with Nestle and PepsiCo.
A recent audit of plastic waste estimated that Coca-Cola had around 11,732 plastics in around 37 countries recorded on 4 different continents, and is responsible for roughly 2.5% of the plastic pollution in the world.
It's time we held them to account.
— breakfreefromplastic (@brkfreeplastic) October 23, 2019