Coca-Cola scores highest on sustainable packaging, however most CPGs fall brief, report says

Dive Transient:

  • Coca-Cola scored the very best for packaging sustainability amongst 50 consumer-facing corporations in a brand new report from nonprofit As You Sow. The Company Plastic Air pollution Scorecard 2021 graded corporations on components together with their packaging design, the quantity of recycled content material of their packaging, and their monetary help of recycling efforts.
  • The beverage big earned a “B” from the nonprofit for its transparency round its packaging use, sturdy dedication to recycling and its help of producer accountability initiatives. Different meals and beverage corporations have been graded “C+” — together with Keurig Dr Pepper and Nestlé — or worse, with eight incomes an “F.” 
  • In response to As You Sow’s Waste Program Coordinator Kelly McBee, the best areas of enchancment got here with corporations’ pledges to make packaging 100% recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025, in addition to commitments to enhance packaging design.

Dive Perception:

As You Sow, based 15 years in the past, is used to holding CPGs’ ft to the fireplace to get them to undertake extra sustainable practices. After the nonprofit filed a shareholder proposal this 12 months that will compel Keurig Dr Pepper to report how a lot of its plastic waste escapes into the surroundings, the beverage firm dedicated to slicing its use of virgin plastic by 25% by 2025. The group triggered comparable commitments from PepsiCo and Mondelēz.

The 12 months 2025 is a well-liked packaging goalpost for a lot of meals and beverage CPGs, lots of whom are signatories on the Ellen MacArthur Basis’s world effort to undertake a round economic system for plastic by that point. Coca-Cola has pledged to make 100% of its packaging recyclable by 2025. And this previous February, Coca-Cola rolled out bottles comprised of 100% recycled plastic throughout its portfolio.

Kraft Heinz additionally dedicated to making 100% of its packaging globally recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. Nevertheless, the corporate acquired a “D” rating within the As You Sow report for causes akin to restricted packaging knowledge transparency and low monetary contributions to recycling efforts.

As You Sow’s McBee mentioned that there’s purpose to push corporations to observe by way of on their 2025 pledges and do extra.

“I believe there may be hazard there of the general public seeing these introduced targets and being like ‘Oh that’s nice, they’re doing so nicely,’ however not having the context of how far more is required,” McBee mentioned.

The report particulars how corporations’ plastic discount targets have elevated “ninefold” since 2019, when solely two had such commitments. Nevertheless, solely 18 of the 50 corporations tracked by As You Sow at the moment have pledges to cut back their plastic.

Some commitments, akin to PepsiCo’s pledge to halve its use of virgin plastic by 2025, solely quantity to “half-steps” since they perpetuate reliance on plastic, McBee mentioned. The beverage and snack big earned a “D+” grade from As You Sow for its efforts round sustainable plastic packaging.

McBee mentioned that Unilever made among the best commitments among the many 50 CPGs that As You Sow ranked. The meals big, which scored a “C,” dedicated to slicing out a 3rd of its plastic altogether by 2025. Nevertheless, she disputes the corporate’s declare that reaching its purpose would require a 100,000-ton lower in plastic, saying that this quantity would solely signify one-seventh of its plastic use.

McBee mentioned the nonprofit can be fearful that corporations will “form of overcorrect” in response to shopper demand for sustainable packaging by embracing a kind of compostable packaging that isn’t straightforward for shoppers to course of and would find yourself in landfills anyway. Most not too long ago, PepsiCo introduced a compostable bag for its Off The Eaten Path model.

Within the report, the nonprofit lays out suggestions for CPGs to make their packaging much less plastic-reliant. These embody phasing out versatile plastic, getting their packaging licensed as recyclable by a 3rd get together, and donating more cash to recycling efforts. As a option to present the general public their dedication to sustainability, McBee mentioned, the nonprofit encourages corporations to donate a selected greenback quantity per metric ton of plastic used, and to report these donations.

In response to the report, “greater than twice as many corporations” in comparison with 2020 participated or financed analysis into recycling infrastructure, although that complete makes up solely 5% of the $17 billion in funding the group says is required.

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