Bottled drink firms called out for greenwashing

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Plastic bottle companies including Coca-Cola, Danone and Nestle have been called out for greenwashing in their product packaging and labelling, as reported by Reuters.

The 13 European consumer groups and an umbrella federation BEUC have called for action against the companies over their misleading claims, according to the news agency Reuters.

The complaints emerged over the plastic bottles labelling themselves as “100% recycled” and “100% recyclable”.

They highlighted that parts of the bottles such as the lids and labels are not created from recycled plastic.

They also mentioned that very often these companies also used fresh/virgin plastic in their manufacturing process.

The BEUC group also highlighted that most of these bottles’ labelling featured green logos and nature imagery that were misleading consumers to believe that the bottles were positive for the environment.

The consumer group also mentioned that claims that the bottles were “100% recyclable” were ambiguous.

Especially, since the process for recycling was very much reliant on local sorting and processing.

The group cited that the recycling rate in the EU for PET beverage bottles is 55% in the EU and the chance of it becoming a bottle again is about 30%.

Response to the claims

According to Reuters, Coca-Cola Great Britain in a comment said  that it “had global goals of collecting and recycling a bottle or can for each one it sells, and to have 25% of volumes in refillable or returnable containers by 2030”.

It also highlighted a comment from a spokesperson, “We only communicate messages on our packaging that can be substantiated” to enable consumers to make informed choices.

The news agency also reached out to Danone and Nestle for their responses.

The bottling company Danone said that it was making progress in reducing single-use plastic and virgin plastic – which was down by 10% since 2018.

While Nestle claimed that it has cut its virgin plastic packaging by 10.5% since 2018, and was on track to cut it by a third by the end of 2025.

Reuters also reported that the European Commission said national authorities would look into the complaint over misleading green claims by companies and consult on possible action.