Don't Bottle It Up - The Cost of Throwaway Plastics

  • Sam Marriott
  • 4th December 2017

Coca Cola set to break throw away plastic bottle record. Over a billion bottles to previous year!

Every second over twenty thousand plastic bottles are purchased around the world. That’s more than over a million bottles a minute and nearly five hundred billion bottles a year.

It’s no surprise that soft drink industry giants Coca Cola are the leading manufacturer of plastic packaged soft drinks worldwide. Studies show production of the best know beverage company is set to rocket production to over a billion more bottles than the previous twelve months.

The environmental activist group Greenpeace claims “We have calculated [Coca Cola] produces over 110 billion throwaway plastic bottles every year – an outstanding 3,400 a second”. Louise Edge, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace, told the Guardian newspaper.

“Coca Cola talks the talk on sustainability but the astonishing rate at which it is pumping out single-use plastic bottles is still growing” she added.

Greenpeace has been piling on the pressure over the last few months for Coke to stop polluting our oceans with plastic throw away bottles. Check out Greenpeaces' alternative Christmas advert here.

Coca Cola confirm they have made considerable steps to increase its recyclability of its products and that all its bottles sold in the UK are completely recyclable.

Environmental campaigners point out that only a small fraction of plastic bottles are actually recycled. Every year, the average UK household uses 480 plastic bottles, but only 270 of them, meaning nearly half (44%) are not put into recycling facilities.

In addition to fossil fuels used in the production of plastic bottles, up to 13 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans every year, where it is often ingested by venerable wildlife. Studies carried out by Ellen MacArthur warn “there will be more waste plastic than fish on the sea by 2050, unless the industry helps to clean the oceans”.

The answer is that we all have a responsibility to reduce our plastic footprint – individuals, businesses and governments. “But there is such a huge amount of plastic flowing into the ocean – a rubbish truck’s worth every single minute – that we need to tackle this problem at source”.

“Think about it like this: if your bath was overflowing, your priority would be to turn off the taps – you wouldn’t first start mopping up the excess water”.

So to end ocean plastic pollution, we need to prioritise reducing the staggering amount of single-use plastic packaging that is being pumped out and sold to us in the first place.

Our rubbish waste collection and recycling systems simply cannot keep up with the amount of plastic we’re using. It’s unacceptable that it’s so hard to avoid buying food and drinks in throwaway plastic packaging on your weekly shop. In fact, the 5p plastic bag charge in supermarkets is a great illustration of how individuals, governments and business can work together to make single-use plastic a thing of the past.

Governments across the UK introduced the charge to give individuals an incentive to re-use bags, and businesses like BIDBI started creating more durable cotton canvas bags to meet this demand. As a result, throwaway plastic bag use has dropped by 85% in England, and number of plastic bags washing up on British coastlines nearly halved between 2014 and 2015!