a new report released highlights the urgent need for reusable beverage containers as a solution to the global plastic crisis. The report was prepared by the Ocean Advocacy Group Oceanashows that just a 10 percentage point increase in reusable beverage containers could eliminate more than 1 trillion single-use plastic bottles and cups by 2030 and prevent 153 billion of these containers from entering our world’s oceans and waterways. Stacked together, the avoided 1 trillion bottles and cups could reach to the moon and back more than 300 times.
Global beverage leaders, including The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo, have vast existing reusable systems around the world and have pledged to increase the volume of beverages they sell in reusable containers by 10 percentage points or more by 2030. Oceana notes that these companies must deliver on these pledges and that the entire industry must fully commit to reuse rather than single use to tackle the plastic pollution crisis facing our seas. Reusable packaging is a proven circular solution that can dramatically and quickly reduce the amount of plastic bottles and cups produced that end up in the oceans. Other ideas more heavily promoted by beverage companies – such as adding more recycled content to plastic bottles – are not, by design, aimed at reducing single-use plastic packaging, and therefore cannot match the impact of reuse.
“We’ve spent too much time chasing circular fantasies, while vast amounts of plastic continue to flow into our oceans.said Matt Littlejohn, Oceana’s Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives. “We estimate that a pile of single-use plastic packaging used by the beverage sector alone could reach all the way to the sun and back in 2022. 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 on recycling, and instead prioritize the expansion and recovery of reusable packaging systems. By switching to this truly circular solution, we can dramatically reduce the amount of plastic waste washing up in our oceans, in the bellies of whales and turtles, and on our beaches.”
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 drinks sold is in reusable bottles. In addition, the report highlights a number of promising large-scale reusable cup systems currently available in the United States and Europe, including TURN, r.World and Re-uz. These systems have already been adopted by major companies and organizations such as Live Nation, which recently announced it is switching to the TURN reusable cup system at many of its festivals and venues to reduce its environmental impact. French operator Re-uz will be the delivery partner of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, supporting its pledge to halve its single-use plastic footprint at the Paris Games compared to the 2012 London Games.
Related article: The Coca-Cola Company launches 100% recycled plastic bottles in Canada
“Companies have a responsibility to use more reusable packaging instead of single-use packaging” added Dr. Dana Miller, Oceana’s director of strategic initiatives, added. “Our seas cannot wait. We really need proven solutions, like reuse, that can now reduce single-use plastic pollution and marine plastic pollution at scale.”
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated exclusively to ocean conservation. Oceana restores abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control a quarter of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 275 victories ending overfishing, habitat destruction, oil and plastic pollution, and the killing of endangered species like turtles, whales and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are getting results. A restored ocean means 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 for more information.