Greenwashing 101- Brought to You by Coca-Cola!

Coca-Cola’s latest ‘2nd life’ advertisement has garnered some moving responses. I’ve been seeing a whole lot of ‘I wish every company would do this’ and ‘kudos to Coke’. I grew curious so I went ahead and watched it. The ad shows that Vietnamese consumers can now purchase attachments that can turn Coke PET(Polyethylene terephthalate) bottles into sprayer, ketchup decanter, paint brush etc. What are the attachments made of?- Plastic. How are they packaged?- In more plastic. Who are selling those attachments? – Coca-Cola. Nice!

It is *great* that 7 or 8 of the PET bottles would be reused but what about the other 7829734 that are consumed? Do the consumers throw those away (so the bottles can leach pollutants on the ground, clog waterways and the caps can choke the wildlife)? Or buy 7829734 attachments to make 7829734 sprayers, ketchup decanters, paint brushes? In addition to that, the 7 or 8 bottles that are being reused would be so for barely a couple of months since inexpensive plastics fall apart (lose form and rigidity due to photodegradation ) pretty quickly. What about the quality of the attachments? How long would they last?

Greenwash devil

What would have been a greener packaging alternative? The thing is, greener alternatives are rarely novel innovations. 90% of the time, it is about going back to the basics: In Coca-Cola’s case, it could be refilling and re-circulating glass bottles (or even PET bottles, as they do in Germany) and metal caps, just like they did 20 years ago. Now their Ivy league lawyers ‘may’ argue that heavier glass bottles would consume more fossil fuel in terms of transportation but rest assured on the fact that exploiting virgin materials (“if you fill a plastic bottle with liquid so that it is 25% full, that’s roughly how much oil it took to make the bottle”) for disposable usage is hardly a greener alternative. Chances are that the ad is basically a tearjerker targeted to gullible Samaritans- Just what they had planned for. You, my friend, have been greenwashed.

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