Coca-Cola has pledged that all its UK bottles will be made from 50% recycled plastic by 2020.
The soft drinks giant will also trial a “recovery and reward” scheme in the UK, which it says will inform national projects that encourage recycling.
Similar deposit return programmes have been highlighted by Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign.
They are usually based on consumers paying a small amount extra for their bottled drink, which is refunded if they return the packaging.
A Greenpeace report revealed in 2016 that Coca-Cola had fiercely opposed such schemes and had resolved a “fight back” against them.
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But the brand made a u-turn on its position earlier this year, announcing it supported the introduction of a deposit return scheme in Scotland.
This week’s announcement on recycling means Coca-Cola will double the percentage of recycled plastic in its bottles.
Coca Cola’s general manager, Jon Woods, told Sky News: “I want all of our plastic packaging back because I don’t want to see it lying at the side of a road or on a beach anymore than anybody else.”
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He admitted there was “more we could do” to tackle the problem, but added: “I’m entirely open to a deposit return scheme if it’s well managed and it’s sufficiently run…
“The only time plastic becomes a problem is if its not recycled – if it’s thrown away. So I think the best way forward for us is to drive up the recycling rates.”
But Greenpeace has called the move a “PR spin” that does not go far enough.
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Ocean plastic campaigner Louise Edge urged the brand to push for an industry-wide deposit return scheme and to get more reusable bottles on the shelves.
“They’re doing nothing to genuinely challenge the culture of throwaway single use plastic bottles,” she said.
A recent Greenpeace study released earlier this year estimated that Coca-Cola produced 100 billion single use bottles every year.
The environmental group has targeted Coca-Cola for its use of plastic packaging.
“This company has a history of making green announcements that sound good but deliver little,” Ms Edge said.
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Coca-Cola also announced it would run a marketing campaign to promote recycling and that it hoped a new advertisement featuring “love-struck plastic bottles” would reach 35 million people in the UK.
The changes will mean UK bottles for all 20 of the company’s brands – including Sprite, Fanta and Schweppes – will have 50% recycled plastic by 2020.
It will meet its aim through a partnership with bottle reprocessing facility Clean Tech and will source all its recycled plastic from the UK.