Coca-Cola was recently specified the world’s largest plastic debris make in a world-wide plastic scrutiny, and it appears that won’t be changing any time soon. The liquor monstrou renders about three million tons of plastic carton every year, or the equivalent of 200, 000 bottles per minute, according to the BBC.
Global studies show that 9 out of 10 plastic bottles don’t get recycled. We know that a huge percentage of our plastic waste ends up in the ocean, filling up the bellies of whalesand breaking down into harmful microplastics. And with changes in how and where recycling gets treated, recycling itself has proven to be a non-solution to the planet’s plastic contamination question.
In light of the information requirements, running out more and more single-use plastic bottles seems like a ridiculously irresponsible shift. And yet, Coca-Cola recently announced that it will be sticking with single-use plastic bottles. Their reasoning? Because people like them.
Like any business, Coca-Cola’s top priority is its bottom line. Though the company has pledged to use at least 50% recycled material in its parcel by 2030 and to partner with NGOs to improve waste collection, they are beholden to the demands of its patrons. As Bea Perez, Coca-Cola’s head of sustainability said at the World Economic Forum, “Business won’t be in business if we don’t accommodate consumers.”
The problem is, she’s right. And that, children, is one reason why “free market environmentalism”–the idea that capitalism will eventually lead to environmental responsibility because consumers will demand it–simply doesn’t work. The free market is great for a lot of things, but protecting the planet isn’t one of them. Humans are beings of dres. We like what we are familiar with and we tend to resist change, even when we know it’s ideal or even necessary. If we’re used to booze soda from a lightweight, resealable plastic bottle, that’s what we’re going to want. Since corporations are in the business of giving( or rather, selling) beings what they demand, the free market equation will never add up to truly sustainable change.
Companies like Coca-Cola find themselves in a position of having to appease the social movement toward sustainability while also appeasing customers who don’t want to realize the changes necessary to support that crusade. Perez prepares it sound like Coca-Cola is trying to gently nudge customers in a more environmentally responsible tack. “As we change our bottling infrastructure, move into recycling and innovate, we also have to show the consumer what potential opportunities are, ” she says. “They will change with us.”
Is that enough, though? Not according to parties on the front line of the plastic crisis. “Recent commitments by firms like Coca-Cola, Nestle, and PepsiCo to address the crisis unfortunately continue to rely on false mixtures like replacing plastic with article or bioplastics and relying more heavily on a burst global recycling structure, ” Abigail Aguilar, Greenpeace Southeast Asia plastic campaign coordinator, said in a press releasein October. “These approaches predominantly protect the outdated throwaway business simulate that compelled the plastic contamination crisis, and will do nothing to prevent these brands from being mentioned the top polluters again in the future.”
Of course, the question of what would replace plastic bottles and whether or not the alternatives are sustainable remains. Perez claims that switching to glass and aluminum may actually increase the company’s carbon footprint–a related but separate issue from the plastic pollution trouble.
But ultimately, the question we all need to ask ourselves is, “Whose problem is this and who needs to solve it? ” Some people don’t crave the government to implement regulations making companies to adopt sustainable rehearses. Some put faith in individuals and industry to figure out how to get what we all want while not destroying the earth in the process. But we have plenty of evidence that consumerism( i.e ., capitalism) is what got us now, and also evidence that laws and regulations can effect real change. Remember the ozone layer crisis? The Montreal Protocol of 1987, which required countries to phase out ozone-depleting essences like chlorofluorocarbons( CFCs ), proved successful at abate a clearly defined environmental challenge. Would corporations have voluntarily eliminated CFCs and learnt alternatives if they weren’t obligated to by ordinance? In the 1980 s? When Aqua Net hair spray was at its prime? Not likely.
That being said, regulations are exclusively effective if they are actually implemented, and the current method of starting international agreements that aren’t really securing are simply get even further. As climate change activist Greta Thunberg saves pointing out, the politics and processes needed to truly address our environmental crisis do not currently exist. It’s vital that we consult about how to actually solve problems like plastic contamination, but one thing is clear–relying on the free market isn’t going to get us there.