Single-use plastic bottles and ocean pollution, Greenpeace complaint

© Will Rose / Greenpeace

Single-use plastic bottles are the leading cause of plastic pollution in the oceans, but only 6.6 percent are made from recycled material.

Greenpeace’s recent report exposes the environmental impact of single-use plastic bottles, the leading cause of plastic pollution of the planet’s oceans and seas. (1) With irreparable damage to marine life as it takes centuries to dispose of the harmful chemicals.

Nearly two million tons of bottles are produced each year in England alone. (2) Of these, only 6.6 percent are made of recycled material. Over the past decade moreover, the soft drink industry has almost abandoned the use of reusable containers in favor of ‘disposable’ ones.

None of the giants interviewed-Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Danone, Suntory and Dr Pepper Snapple-have committed to reducing single-use plastic bottles. Only two out of six groups consider the risk of marine pollution at the packaging design stage. And they have set tentative targets for increased use of recycled material. (3)

If we are going to protect our oceans we need to end the age of disposable plastic

(Louise Edge, Greenpeace UK)

Greenpeace calls for more commitment from soft drink manufacturers. The logic of ‘disposable’ plastic should be abandoned in favor of the use of reusable containers. In the meantime, 100% recycled materials must be used.

Single-use plastic bottles and the role of consum-Actors.

Change on closer inspection also depends on consumAtors, as always. How many small bottles do we purchase each day? Do we take care of their proper disposal, for the purpose of recycling? Do we educate our little ones this way?

Reducing disposability in daily consumption, reusing and recycling materials is a prerequisite for reducing our environmental footprint. National and local governments should then introduce ‘returnable vacuum’ systems. (4) Which, where applied, have increased recycling and collection rates by more than 80 percent globally. Up to 98 percent in Germany.

Dario Dongo


(1) 12 million tons of plastic each year ends up in the oceans, Greenpeace estimates

(2) The figure covers only UK productions reported by the 5 out of 6 industry groups responding to the questions, excluding Coca-Cola

(3) Some industries have reduced the thickness of containers and started using bioplastics, not derived from petroleum. Useful tools, yet insufficient to compensate for continued growth in production volumes

(4) Incredible but true, two-thirds of Big Food giants surveyed by Greenpeace said they had global policies against bottle collection systems (!)