Popular brands Nestle, Coca-Cola, and Danone are in a bad light for making far-fetched claims that their bottles are fully recycled or recyclable. These companies have been slammed for greenwashing.
The Bureau Europeen des Unions de Consommateurs (BEUC) said the respective brands’ claims are misleading because recycling rates are far lower in practice and bottles contain items that cannot be made from recycled material. It added that green imagery on bottles gave the false idea of environmental neutrality.
Environmental groups Client Earth and ECOs, in their complaint to the European Commission, argued the bottles are never made wholly of recycled materials, and the ability to recycle them depends on a number of factors, including the availability of infrastructure. Client Earth’s legal representative Rosa Pritchard said the evidence is clear. “Plastic water bottles are simply not recycled again and again to become new bottles in Europe. A 100 percent recycling rate for bottles is technically not possible and just because bottles are made with recycled plastic, does not mean they don’t harm people and planet.” She added that companies need to focus efforts on reducing plastic at source rather than portraying recycling as a silver bullet.
Coca-Cola is working to reduce the amount of plastic packaging it uses. It is investing to collect and recycle the equivalent of the packaging it uses. The beverage company said it only communicates messages on its packaging that can be substantiated, with any relevant qualifications clearly displayed to enable consumers to make informed choices. “Some of our packaging carries messages to drive recycling awareness, including whether our packages are recyclable and if they are made from recycled content.”