Coca-Cola: A Responsible Commerce Leader Against Plastic Pollution?


Written by, Vanessa Cole January 9, 2019

Let's just get the ugly out on the table, since I'm a believer that you can't solve any problem until you know what you're dealing with. Coca-Cola produces and distributes sugary drinks in plastic bottles, which have been identified as culprits in human health concerns and contributes to a one way bottle business model. This model is utilized by many others, contributing to the plastic pollution crisis we are paying the heavy price for now. Where does this root back to? In the 1950's, plastic was considered a great solution. Lightweight, cheap and could be thrown away after one use, but we know now, there is no such thing as away and products intended for one use can no longer be made from a material that does not biodegrade. So, how can a company that relies on the sales of sugary drinks make a compelling case that it also cares deeply about the health of it's consumers (many of whom are children) or the planet they live on?

Well, they can't, really... not on the human health front, anyway- soda is just not a healthy food choice nor is the plastic bottle it comes in. BUT we want to give improvement credit where credit is due, because growth mindset tells us that we learn from our mistakes, and we want to acknowledge Coca-Cola's work toward responsibility for their product's planetary impact. Coca Cola CAN show leadership in cleaning up their planetary mess... and they seem to care about that. So for now, we're willing to offer a pat on the back for the work Coca-Cola is doing to clean up its plastic pollution, because we believe in human skill sets that include making responsible choices. Unfortunately, I can't make the same case for the contents of what's in these plastic bottles...

So, let's talk about the health of Coca Cola's sugary drink products. It's well established that soda isn't good for us. Neither is candy, cake, pizza and a whole laundry list of things you find in the majority of every classroom, family pantry and child's birthday party around the US. We like to call these treats, sometimes foods, that require us to make responsible choices to enjoy (and guide our children to make the same responsible choices as well). It's pretty standard for the average American to consume sugary drinks and eat "unhealthy" food, on occasion. Fortunately, for companies like Coca-Cola, who distribute the number one selling soda in the world, consumers make these "sometimes" food choices regardless of the known unhealthy truths for our body. WE CHOOSE to sometimes consume these treats. Some of us, more than others, and we must own responsibility for these choices.

Look, I don't advocate for soda, in fact it is a rare occasion I allow my children to drink soda or I take even a sip of it, myself. But, there are two things I do advocate for that help me make my "sometimes food" decisions without having to eliminate them altogether... self management and responsible decision making, both skills built through a value for educational Social Emotional Learning, which I spend a good deal of time advocating for.

I also use these skills to consider the environmental impact of  the companies that manufacture and distribute the consumer products that our family CHOOSES to purchase and bring into our home and lifestyle through the purchase power we all have. I also consider the corporate responsibility of the commerce leadership behind the products our family purchases and what the companies we buy from do for communities and our planet, whether these companies sell completely healthy products also determines my choices to consume or not consume their products on a regular basis, sometimes basis, rare occasion or never.

This is why an article, recently published in the Washington Post made me consider Coca-Cola's initiative to take responsibility for it's packaging & bottle impact on the plastic pollution crisis. A crisis that is a culprit robbing our children of inheriting a healthy planet from us. As a mother, I decided to look past the fact that sugary, "sometimes drinks" are one of Coca-Cola's main products, and open my mind to discover their modeled behavior in commerce practice.


Please follow the link here to the full Washington Post Article I read, published January 7th, 2019:

Washington Post: What if Plastic Never Became Waste?


In today's world, it is a fact that we ALL must take unprecedented action to regenerate our planet. This action requires families, education, community and responsible commerce to connect working toward a BETTER WORLD in this connection and partnership. Coca-Cola, we want to applaud your action and corporate responsibility toward better, with your ambitious goal to recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can you sell by 2030 and for your diverse programs providing valuable lessons that can be applied around the world. These goals claiming that, your Coca-Cola Company’s progress proves that sustainable, circular recycling initiatives are possible—and are valuable—for any country and any economy.



While positive in this movement, its important to note that MOST corporate responsibility programs require participation of its consumers, and Coca Cola's is no different. Their system relies on consumer participation. So, we all have a role and part to play if we'll be successful in cleaning up this mess for our kids, and moving toward practices that will halt the root sources. Recycling isn't a sustainable solution for plastic pollution because we can recycle the magnitude of what we are producing, and incineration practices just contribute to climate change. Claims that plastic packaging is biodegradable, bio-based, bio-derived or compostable is cause for consumers to be wary. These claims are highly misleading, in the least from our quest to get to the bottom of plastic alternatives. A general rule of thumb, we've learned, if it's made from something that was alive, it will biodegrade.

So, while we appreciate all the corporate movement forward, as they work to own their responsibility, we ask the consumer to become more informed on the true impact of plastic pollution, the validity of alternative "bio-plastics" and the responsibility we too, must own. We offer the 5 Gyres Better Alternatives Now List 2.0 to assist you.

Thank you, Coca Cola for realizing, you play a part in solutions and actions that ultimately, WILL OR WILL NOT, make us proud of the planet we hand down to our children... we appreciate your environmental efforts & programs and hope you continue to participate in the validity of their effectiveness... to you we offer a company called, Plastic Pollution Solutions.

You can help Coca-Cola out with their goal to recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can they sell by 2030... next time you see a Coca-Cola packaging product on the ground- at a beach, or a park or school play yard... pick it up, and send it to Coca Cola's CEO, James Quincey with one of our AP Young Steward's "Send it Back" LETTER TOOLS, to say, thanks for the effort, I wanted to help you out. *This letter tool can be found on AP Young Steward, Addyson's Activation Page, initiative number 3, just follow the link.

**If you are a plastic pollution specialist, scientist or expert and have a comment or suggestion that might assist Coca Cola in their efforts, we'd love to hear your perspective. Please share with a comment.**


*Please note that AddyPresLifeSTYLE does not receive sponsorship from the Coca-Cola company and wrote this article based on it's own opinions & knowledge. Please also learn more about the science and research of plastic pollution on the 5Gyres Institute Website.