25-Mar-2019 - Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V.

Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Danone disclose for the first time how much plastic they use

DUH demands consistent conversion to reusable bottles

Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Danone have disclosed for the first time how much plastic they produce. In a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the extent of plastics consumption by the world's largest beverage manufacturers becomes clear. The global market leader Coca-Cola is the biggest plastic sinner with an annual production of three million tonnes of plastic, followed by Nestlé with 1.7 million tonnes and Danone with 750,000 tonnes. According to the German Environmental Aid (DUH), the figures show that the three beverage giants are among the main actors responsible for the pollution of the environment by plastic waste. The mass production of disposable plastic bottles wastes limited resources, pollutes the climate and leads to huge amounts of waste.

The DUH calls on Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Danone, who predominantly use disposable plastic bottles, to end the plastic madness and to bottle their drinks in environmentally friendly reusable bottles. Companies must also advocate deposit systems worldwide to ensure that beverage packaging is returned to retailers and not disposed of in the environment. The DUH also requires other companies such as Pepsi, Aldi or Lidl to disclose figures on plastics production.

"The plastic consumed by Coca-Cola produces an unimaginable volume of more than 88 billion disposable plastic bottles every year. That's 167,000 bottles a minute. Put together, the plastic bottles produced worldwide by Coca-Cola in one year would circumnavigate the earth 594 times or reach from the earth to the moon and back 31 times. Disposable bottles are among the most frequently disposed of packaging in the environment, especially in countries that do not have a deposit system, and lead to the death of thousands of living creatures. Bottle rings and lids are particularly frequently found in the stomachs of seabirds," criticizes Barbara Metz, Deputy Federal Managing Director of the DUH.

"Instead of acting sustainably and relying on environmentally friendly returnable bottles, Coca-Cola is pushing ahead with its global strategy for disposable plastic bottles and beverage cans. A Coca-Cola internal strategy paper published by DC-Leaks in 2016 shows that the company is fighting against returnable bottles, higher legal recycling rates and more collected plastic bottles," says Thomas Fischer, DUH's Director of Environmental Services.

In Germany, Coca-Cola is continuing its efforts to exit the returnable system. The 0.5 and 1.5 litre PET returnable bottles have already disappeared from the shelves and the company has already closed seven German locations in Germany since 2015. "For its own profit, Coca-Cola accepts the damage done to our environment, dismisses its employees and forces consumers to buy its disposable plastic bottles. In addition, Coca-Cola is undermining the reusable quota of 70 percent from the Packaging Act," Fischer continues. The company did not reply to a current enquiry by the DUH regarding the reusable portion and Coca-Cola's contribution to meeting the reusable portion of 70 percent applicable in Germany.

At the request of the DUH, Danone informed the DUH in writing that it would continue to focus on disposable plastic bottles and focused above all on its commitment to optimising them. This is contradicted by the fact that the company has been using particularly heavy and environmentally harmful disposable plastic bottles for Evian mineral water since 2016. Nestlé estimated its reusable share in Germany at only twelve percent. Thus, these companies are also boycotting the legal reusable quota of 70 percent.

"Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Danone have long tried to conceal their responsibility for the global plastic waste crisis through secrecy. With the current publication of the quantities of plastic produced, they are merely yielding to increased public pressure and consumer demands for more transparency. Initiatives by large corporations against plastic waste are in stark contrast to their blatant one-way strategies and are therefore not credible. Above all, they serve to prevent effective legal regulations," criticises Metz.

Background on Coca-Cola and its relationship to returnable bottles:

1. In 1987, Environment Minister Töpfer responded to Coca-Cola's announcement to replace the 1.0 l returnable bottle with disposable PET by issuing a decree introducing a deposit on returnable PET bottles. As a result, Coca-Cola decided to introduce the 1,5 litre returnable PET bottle.

At the end of the 1990s, Coca-Cola demanded the abolition of the 72 percent reusable protection rate and wanted to set up vending machines for disposable beverages nationwide. The then Federal Environment Minister Angela Merkel rejected Coca-Cola.

From 2000 to 2002, Coca-Cola fought doggedly against the introduction of a compulsory deposit on beverage cans and plastic bottles, but failed because of Jürgen Trittin, the Federal Environment Minister responsible at the time.

At the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, Coca-Cola torpedoed the reusable system with a disposable PET bottle in football form, which was sold without a deposit as a "reusable bottle". With the support of the then Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, the DUH stopped this attempt to undermine the reusable protection and deposit regulations.

5 In January 2015, Coca-Cola began to say goodbye again to reusable packaging. So far, the 0.5-litre and 1.5-litre PET returnable bottles that were widespread at the time have been abolished. The majority of soft drinks are now bottled in disposable plastic bottles and beverage cans instead.

6 An internal Coca-Cola strategy paper published by DC-Leaks in 2016 showed that the company is fighting against returnable bottles, higher legal recycling quotas and more collected plastic bottles.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation report with figures from Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Danone on plastics production is linked in the top right box.

Note: This article has been translated using a computer system without human intervention. LUMITOS offers these automatic translations to present a wider range of current news. Since this article has been translated with automatic translation, it is possible that it contains errors in vocabulary, syntax or grammar. The original article in German can be found here.

Facts, background information, dossiers
  • Coca-Cola
  • Nestlé
  • Danone
  • plastic bottles
  • Deutsche Umwelthilfe
  • returnable bottles
More about Deutsche Umwelthilfe
More about Coca Cola
  • News

    Molson Coors to launch Topo Chico Spirited, a new RTD cocktail line

    Ready-to-drink spirits are having a moment, and Molson Coors Beverage Company is getting in on the action with the introduction of Topo Chico Spirited, a new line of canned cocktails made with real spirits, real juice and sparkling water. With Topo Chico Spirited, Molson Coors is showing it ... more

    Coca-Cola brings the World Cup to Berlin

    elden opportunity: On October 2 and 3, the original FIFA World CupTM trophy comes to Germany and is received by Bastian Schweinsteiger. Who wouldn't want to finally have it in their pocket: the 5th World Cup victory. With the FIFA World CupTM Trophy Tour, Coca-Cola Germany is offering a fir ... more

    Jennifer Mann to Succeed Alfredo Rivera as President of the North America Operating Unit of The Coca-Cola Company

    The Coca-Cola Company today announced that Jennifer Mann will become president of the company’s North America operating unit effective January 1, 2023. Mann succeeds Alfredo Rivera, who will step down December 31. Rivera, who has led a successful restructuring of the North America operating ... more

  • Companies

    Coca Cola

    The world is changing all around us. To continue to thrive as a business over the next ten years and beyond, we must look ahead, understand the trends and forces that will shape our business in the future and move swiftly to prepare for what's to come. We must get ready for tomorrow today. ... more

More about Nestlé
  • News

    Change of Executive Board member at Nestlé Germany: Alexander von Maillot succeeds Marc-Aurel Boersch

    Marc-Aurel Boersch (54), CEO of Nestlé Deutschland AG since 2019, has decided to end his professional career earlier to find more time for new, private perspectives. Boersch looks back on around 20 years in the Nestlé Group and has held a wide variety of national as well as international po ... more

    Have a paper-wrapped break with KitKat

    KitKat, one of the world's most popular confectionery products, is introducing recyclable paper packaging as a pilot test for the brand. The recyclable paper packaging will be available for a limited time for its four-finger bar in Australia, across Western Australia, South Australia and No ... more

    Nestlé serves vegan chocolate, meatballs and sauce

    In the new year, Nestlé is once again bringing vegan innovations to the plate. The food manufacturer's plant-based innovations support people in the international vegan month "Veganuary" and beyond with a varied diet without meat, milk & Co. A plant-based diet tastes good and helps to signi ... more

  • Companies

    Nestlé Deutschland AG

    Nestlé is committed to enhancing the quality of consumers' lives through nutrition, health and wellness. Our mission of "Good Food, Good Life" is to provide the best tasting, most nutritious choices in a wide range of food and beverage categories and eating occasions, from morning to night. ... more

    Nestlé Schöller GmbH & Co. KG


    Nestlé S.A.

    As the world's largest food and beverage company we are driven by a simple aim: unlocking the power of food to enhance quality of life for everyone, today and for generations to come. To deliver on this, we serve with passion, with a spirit of excellence, offering products and services for ... more

More about Danone