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Coca-Cola launches campaign to give ‘second life’ to plastic bottles



Drinks company Coca-Cola is promoting new ways to give a ‘second life’ to its products by offering people a set of interchangeable caps that allow them to reuse plastic bottles in creative ways. However, critics have noted that the company could in fact end up creating more plastic as a result.

Coca-Cola’s new campaign forms part of its sustainability programme, and encourages consumers to reuse plastic Coke bottles as paintbrushes, water squirters, spray bottles and pencil sharpeners.

The company has started to sell a 16-cap kit so that once customers have finished their drink, they can make other items out of it.

The campaign has been launched in Vietnam and will be rolled out elsewhere in Asia as well. In Ho Chi Minh City, around 40,000 bottle caps are expected to be given away this year.

Leonardo O’Grady, director of integrated marketing communications at Coca-Cola in the Asia region, said, “We are always looking for better solutions to reduce the use of plastic and increase recycling around the world.

“The variety of our ‘2nd Lives’ caps shows that there are many creative ways to re-use plastic simply and practically, and also supports our global sustainability programme. We have created fun tools with Coke bottle tops, bringing small moments of happiness into people’s lives. We hope to make a positive impact and empower people to lead happier lives.

Commenting on the news on social media, some have argued that the initiative could end up producing even more plastic, which risks becoming waste, and that the company should focus more on recycling and incentives to return empty bottles.

Jacquelyn Ottman, chief waste watcher at community group WeHateToWaste, said, Upcycling represents a viable alternative in a full portfolio of solutions to solid waste, especially in its ability to give waste haters a creative outlet and to prevent a new purchase thereby saving consumers’ time and money.”

However, Coke’s 2nd Lives campaign raises some important issues, not the least of which is product safety:  will children mistake a Coke bottle with paint or cleaning fluid in it for ‘the real thing’?

She added to Blue & Green Tomorrow, “Still, the elephant in the room is why in the first place Coke would sell product in plastic bottles in Vietnam without any provisions for recycling. 

“I wished Coke would have vetted this campaign with our community (privately) in advance.  I’m sure we would have alerted them to these issues, and potentially given them some ‘hacks’ that could ideally actually advance sustainability.”

Photo: Ze’ev Barkan via flickr

Further reading:

Most remote corners of the oceans full of human litter, study finds

Study: plastic pollution not limited to oceans

Cleaning up our oceans: a journey from waste to wear

Microplastic intoxicates marine wildlife, new study finds

The Guide to Sustainable Spending 2013