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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Strategic CSR - Coca-Cola (II)

Following on from Monday's Newsletter, the article in the url below quantifies one of the many social consequences for our obsession with soft-drinks (and plastic):
"Earlier this year Greenpeace revealed Coca-Cola is responsible for selling more than 100bn single-use plastic bottles across the globe every year – that's more than 3,000 every second."
The author (who is the executive director of Greenpeace UK) uses this statistic to criticize Coca-Cola's recent announcement (only in the UK) that it will increase the recycled content of its plastic bottles to 50%:
"[This] … shows a startling lack of ambition from the soft-drinks giant to tackle one of the greatest environmental challenges facing us: the plastic pollution choking our oceans. … This new plan is no game changer. Limited to operations in the UK, Coca-Cola's plans amount to increasing its existing target for recycled content by a mere 10%, launching yet another public awareness campaign to keep the focus on litterers, and trialing what appears will be little more than a promotional scheme for buying more Coca-Cola bottles."
Beyond criticizing this specific announcement, however, the author asks why the company is not being more ambitious in its targets:
"… is reaching 50% recycled content in three years' time significant? The truth is that 100% recycled bottles are feasible and have been rolled out for a number of soft drinks products over the past decade. In 2007, for example, Suntory's Ribena became the first major UK soft drink brand to use 100% recycled plastic. Coca-Cola, the world's biggest soft drinks company, is lagging far behind."
His skepticism seems warranted, based on prior performance targets that are announced with much fanfare, only to recede into the distance and get lost among the noise of day-to-day business:
"The company's plans, which it says it will reveal later this year, may feature a money-off voucher scheme to reward customers returning small Coca-Cola bottles to shops. … If the vouchers can be redeemed on yet more plastic Coca-Cola bottles, this will only boost the already staggering global plastic bottle sales of a million a minute. It's also worth pointing out that Coca-Cola's mildly higher goal to source 50% recycled content should be taken with a pinch of salt given the company's history of failing to keep its promises. Coca-Cola got less than half way to meeting its global 2015 target to source 25% of its plastic bottles from recycled or 'renewable' material, for example plant-based plastics. Globally the company reached a pitiful 7% recycled material."
The management of key resources (i.e., water and plastic) has to be a priority for Coca-Cola. The firm's social license is already threatened with the health consequences of the consumption of its products. It should be doing more to get out ahead of yet another threat to its business.
Happy Thanksgiving to those of you here in the U.S.
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If you care so much, Coke, why aren't your bottles 100% recycled?
By John Sauven
July 13, 2017
The Guardian