Reusable Packaging: A Game-Changer in the Battle Against Plastic Pollution

waste water bottle in a tree stump

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by | Nov 17, 2023

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In a world grappling with the alarming rise of plastic waste, ocean advocacy group Oceana has unveiled a report that underscores the vital role of reusable beverage packaging in combatting the global plastic crisis.

The report reveals compelling statistics and calls upon leading beverage and bottling companies to prioritize reusable solutions to reduce marine plastic pollution and safeguard our oceans.

Industry Giants Take Action

Oceana’s report begins with a striking revelation: a mere 10-percentage point increase in the adoption of reusable beverage packaging by 2030 could eliminate 1 trillion single-use plastic bottles and cups from circulation. Equally staggering is the potential to prevent up to 153 billion of these containers from finding their way into our oceans and waterways. To put this into perspective, stacking these avoided bottles and cups would reach the moon and back over 300 times.

Acknowledging the urgency of the plastic crisis, global beverage leaders like The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo have pledged to increase the volume of beverages sold in reusable packaging by at least 10 percentage points by 2030. Oceana emphasizes the importance of these companies meeting their commitments and calls on the entire sector to embrace reusability over single-use solutions.

It argues that reusable packaging, unlike other strategies such as increasing recycled content in plastic bottles, can deliver substantial and rapid reductions in plastic waste production.

Matt Littlejohn, Oceana’s senior vice president for strategic initiatives, emphasizes the need for a paradigm shift, stating, “We need companies and governments to stop betting on the wrong horse with recycling and to prioritize the expansion and re-establishment of reusable packaging systems instead. By switching to this real circular solution, we can drastically reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in our oceans.”

Global Success Stories

Oceana’s report also highlights the presence of successful large-scale reusable packaging systems worldwide.

In the Philippines, for example, 40% of all packaged non-alcoholic beverages are sold in reusable bottles, showcasing the feasibility of such systems. Additionally, the report spotlights promising reusable cup systems like TURN, r.World, and Re-uz in the United States and Europe. These systems have already gained traction among major companies and organizations, with Live Nation adopting TURN’s reusable cup system at its festivals and venues to reduce environmental impact.

French provider Re-uz is set to play a pivotal role as the delivery partner for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, pledging to cut the single-use plastic footprint of the Paris Games in half compared to the London 2012 Games.

A Call for Responsibility

Dr. Dana Miller, Oceana’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, emphasizes the urgency of the situation, saying, “Companies have a responsibility to increase reusable packaging in place of single-use packaging. Our seas can’t wait. We need real proven solutions, like reuse, that can reduce single-use plastic and marine plastic pollution at scale right now.”

As plastic pollution continues to threaten oceans and marine life, Oceana’s report serves as a clarion call for the global beverage industry to prioritize reusable packaging as a tangible and effective solution. With the support of industry giants and the adoption of successful models, the shift towards reusability can help lead to a plastic-free future for the oceans and the planet.

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