Report: Switching to Reusable Packaging Could Eliminate 1 Trillion Single-Use Plastic Bottles and Cups
Oceana urges leading beverage and bottling companies to grow reusable packaging, reduce marine plastic pollution, and help save the oceans.
Press Release Date: November 20, 2023
A new report released by Oceana on November 14 highlights the urgent need for reusable beverage packaging as a solution to the global plastic crisis. The report, produced by ocean advocacy group Oceana, shows that just a 10-percentage point increase in reusable beverage packaging by 2030 could eliminate over 1 trillion single-use plastic bottles and cups and prevent up to 153 billion of these containers from entering our world’s oceans and waterways. Stacked on top of each other, the avoided 1 trillion bottles and cups could reach to the moon and back over 300 times.
Global beverage leaders, including The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo, have enormous existing reusable systems in place around the world and have pledged to increase the volume of beverages they sell in reusable packaging by 10 percentage points or more by 2030.
“As stated in the report, the Philippines has one of the largest volumes of refillable glass bottles in the world which account for 40% of non-alcoholic beverages sold. Returnable glass bottles are still widely used in the provinces. The system to reduce the amount of single-use plastic bottles already exists. All they have do is enhance their existing infrastructures and realize their target to help address plastic pollution,” said Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Oceana Vice President.
Reusable packaging is a proven circular solution that can dramatically and quickly reduce the volume of plastic bottles and cups produced that will reach the oceans. Other ideas more heavily promoted by beverage companies – such as adding more recycled content to plastic bottles are not, by design, geared toward reducing single- use plastic containers, and therefore cannot match the impact of reuse.
“We’ve spent too much time chasing circular fantasies while huge amounts of plastic continue to flood into our oceans. We’ve estimated that a stack of the single-use plastic packaging used by the beverage sector in 2022 alone could reach all the way to the sun and back. Adding recycled content to bottles and cups won’t topple this single-use plastic tower. The way to really make a difference is to replace single-use plastic with reusable packaging. We need companies and governments to stop betting on the wrong horse with recycling and to prioritize the expansion and re-establishment of reusable packaging systems instead. By switching to this real circular solution, we can drastically reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our oceans, in the bellies of whales and turtles, and washed up on our beaches,” said Matt Littlejohn, Oceana’s Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives. “
The report reveals the significant presence of large-scale reusable packaging systems around the world – including in the Philippines where 40% of the volume of all packaged non-alcoholic beverages sold are in reusable bottles.
“The Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) and PepsiCo should increase the refillable glass bottles in the country if they are serious in curbing marine plastic pollution and protecting our oceans from being infested with single-use plastic bottles,” said Ramos.
Earlier this year, CCEP announced its intention to acquire Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines in partnership with Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. (AEV), and other beverage companies. In a letter to the companies’ leaders, Oceana expressed concern for CCEP’s lack of a specific commitment and goal for growing the share of products it sells in reusable containers.
Refillable bottles can be used up to 25 times if made of plastic and up to 50 times if made of glass.1 This means a refillable bottle avoids the production and use of up to 50 single-use bottles. Each of those avoided throwaway bottles would have otherwise entered waste streams or been littered, with either pathway possibly leading to the oceans. In contrast, Coca-Cola has reported that 93% of their refillable bottles are collected to be reused.2 These bottles are closely managed in refillable systems because they have economic value for the bottling companies that own them.
“Companies have a responsibility to increase reusable packaging in place of single-use packaging”, added Dr. Dana Miller, Oceana’s Director of Strategic Initiatives. “Our seas can’t wait. We need real proven solutions, like reuse, that can reduce single-use plastic and marine plastic pollution at scale right now.” (END)
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-quarter of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 275 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, oil and plastic pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles, whales, and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit Oceana.org to learn more.