Coca-Cola has conjured up a new plan in the last few months, a new way to target the home market and the new post-recession thinking that has seen a drop in convenience buying of drinks and sweets. They first “partnered with” and then began to swallow up a company called Keurig who make those little cup shaped coffee pods that started to become popular a few years ago. You probably know the ones: they’re quick and simple to use with no cleaning of the coffee machine and come handily colour coded so you don’t end up crawling up the wall after mixing up your espresso with your decaf at half nine in the evening.
The idea is this: make a new version of the Soda Stream machine but sell the drinks in individual pods so you can easily make a glass of Coke that really tastes like Coke, not a substitute, with no chance of getting the mix wrong. The first thing I thought was that this could cut down on plastic and aluminium waste but it’s Coke, so I figured I’d better read a little bit more. It turns out that that those handy little pods can’t be recycled, where as at least (if you ignore the other reasons that drinking 39 grams of sugar with your caffeine hit might not be a great idea) their plastic bottles CAN be recycled even if they usually aren’t. Coca-Cola to date haven’t found a way to either make their new pods recyclable or to invent a new recycling method. Using just one pod a day, you will create just over 35kg of unrecyclable plastic per year.
This seems like just another way to put a psychological barrier between us and the waste we create. It’s so clean and easy, and takes up so little room in the bin that we might not really take on board the sheer tonnage of new land-fill plastic (or indeed ocean borne plastic) that we will create that will simply add to the millions of tonnes of plastic bottles and cans land-filled every year. It’s hard to imagine a corporation like Coke taking this seriously enough to really act on it, given their environmental record: while they trumpet their green credentials they still oppose legislation dealing with the creation & disposal of waste plastics, they still run bottling operations in drought stricken developing countries.