Consumers want plastics bottles, says Coca-Cola

The head of sustainability at Coca-Cola has told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that her company will not stop using ‘single-use’ plastics bottles, because consumers still want them.

Bea Perez’s comments echo those of her company’s chief executive James Quincey, who stated late last year that Coca-Cola has no plans to “engineer a strategic shift from plastics to aluminium”.

The beverage giant, which uses about three million tonnes of plastics packaging a year, has pledged to recycle as many bottles as it uses by 2030. The company also intends to use at least 50 per recycled material by the same year.

In a passionate speech in Davos, Perez said that eliminating plastics would impact sales and alienate customers, while using only aluminium and glass would likely push up the company’s carbon footprint.

Likewise, Quincey told Reuters in November 2019 that “a recycled PET bottle has a much lower carbon footprint than an aluminium can or a returned glass bottle”.

Perez, who has been in her current role at Coca-Cola since 2011, is determined for the company to reach its 2030 targets and said that she agreed with calls for the firm to achieve them sooner.

She has already seen a marked increase in the speed of progress towards sustainability goals during her time in the position. When she started, she admitted that progress was unclear, but Coca-Cola introduced scorecards to measure and track the goals of each business unit, and that has accelerated the work.