January has been a big month for plastics and packaging recycling goals. British Prime Minister Theresa May said she wants to eliminate avoidable plastic within 25 years; the European Union is looking at bag and plastic packaging fees; Dow announced a new round of funding for its plastics-to-fuel program; Evian aims to make its bottles out of 100% recycled material by 2025; and McDonald’s goal is for all of its packaging to come from recycled or certified sources by 2025. Coca-Cola’s announcement is just the latest in a growing field.
And the beverage company can already boast significant progress on its packaging goal. In 2016, the company recycled 59.3% of its total packaging (although a slight drop from 2014’s 61% recycling rate), with its next goal of recycling 75% of its packaging by 2020.
Coca-Cola’s 100% packaging recycling goal isn’t new, but it doesn’t make its key partnerships any less meaningful — the company has joined with groups that are already taking meaningful action in developing a more circular economy.
The New Plastics Economy, for example, recently awarded $1 million in prize money to groups or individuals working to revolutionize grocery shopping and coffee cups. World Wildlife Fund’s Cascading Materials Vision has joined with The Recycling Partnership, Target, The American Chemistry Council and others to promote reusing material rather than constantly going after virgin supply.