Plastics Recycling Update

Coca-Cola, Kraft Heinz advance green goals

Bottles of Coca-Cola with focus on red cap with logo.

Big names in food and other consumer goods are making big moves to use less virgin plastic. | Dilok Klaisataporn/Shutterstock

Several large brands have recently upped their use of recycled plastics and updated their goals accordingly.  

Coca-Cola Beverages Northeast debuted 100% RPET bottles for some of the 20-ounce products it sells throughout New England and upstate New York, including Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Cherry Coke and several others. The beverage giant also unveiled 100% RPET bottles for its 20-ounce and 1-liter DASANI bottles nationwide. 

The products’ caps and labels are not made with RPET, the press release noted. 

The move aligns with the company’s World Without Waste goals of using at least 50% recycled content in Coca-Cola packaging by 2030 and reducing its use of virgin plastics by a cumulative 3 million metric tons by 2025.

Susannah Smith, senior director of public affairs and communications, said the move comes as Coke recognizes “that we have a responsibility to help solve the global plastic packaging waste crisis.”

“As a leader in the beverage industry, we need to act as a model for responsible behavior with regard to sustainability and to help reduce plastic waste globally,” Smith added.

Virgin plastic reduction

Kraft Heinz and Church & Dwight recently announced they would be cutting virgin plastic packaging use in response to shareholder pressure last year. 

Kraft Heinz has committed to cut virgin plastic use by 20% by 2030, using 2021 as a baseline, and Church & Dwight set a target to cut virgin plastic use by 30% by 2025, using 2017 as its baseline.

As You Sow, an activist shareholder group, agreed to withdraw its 2022 shareholder proposals on plastic pollution from each company if those companies agreed to set reduction goals, a press release stated. 

The press release noted the goals “signal a positive trend among major consumer goods companies to cut the use of virgin plastic use.”

Keurig Dr Pepper, Mondelez International, PepsiCo and Walmart all also recently agreed to virgin plastic reductions in response to As You Sow shareholder proposals. 

Target and Keurig Dr Pepper set a reduction target of 20%, Walmart 15% and Mondelez 5% by 2025. PepsiCo agreed to a 20% cut by 2030.

Kelly McBee, circular economy coordinator at As You Sow, said the organization hopes the companies “pair their new goals with commitments to financially invest in the collection and recycling of their packaging to ensure it never becomes waste.” 

As You Sow refiled similar plastic packaging resolutions with Amazon and Kroger this year. 

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