To reduce plastic use, Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong to produce more cans and glass bottles under HK$150 million plan
- Distributor will also roll out 300 water dispensers across the city allowing users to refill their own bottles
- Green groups approve of some measures but say company needs to go further with its environmental initiatives
In a shift away from plastic containers, Coca-Cola’s Hong Kong distributor will produce more drinks in cans and glass bottles, and roll out hundreds of water dispensers across the city as part of its waste reduction and recycling measures.
Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong will invest more than HK$150 million (US$19.2 million) in new production equipment and technologies over the next five years to support the growth of refillable and reusable drink packaging, said Neil Waters, the company’s director.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Waters said the company would increase the sales of drinks in aluminium cans by more than 10 per cent over the next five years, with 80 per cent of the cans being recyclable.
Glass bottle business would be increased by more than 150 per cent over the same period, and more than 90 per cent of the glass bottles produced would be refilled and reused, he said.
“Now 15 to 16 per cent of our business is refillable and reusable,” he said. “Over the next five years, our refillable and reusable packaging mix will reach almost 20 per cent of our total volume.”
Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong is a member of the Single-Use Beverage Packaging Working Group, a coalition of environmental groups and major drink manufacturers in the city that have committed to reducing plastic waste and raising the recycling rate.
Last Thursday, the group announced its target of increasing the waste recovery rate to anywhere between 70 and 90 per cent between 2025 and 2030.
Apart from switching to more eco-friendly packaging options, the company said it would provide alternatives to single-use bottles.
The distributor is also planning to roll out 300 water dispensers across Hong Kong in 2019. Users will be able to refill their own bottles with Bonaqua mineralised water at a small charge.
Earlier, the company tested two dispensers at two locations in Hong Kong, one at King’s Park Sports Ground and the other at Shui Long Wo.
“We received really positive responses from the public,” Waters said. “These water dispensers aim to encourage consumers to bring their own bottles, thus reducing the burden of single-use beverage bottles on our landfill.”
Page Guillot, general manager of Coca-Cola Hong Kong, said the company would continue working to raise public awareness of waste reduction and recycling through education, including putting HK$10 million into initiatives over the next five years to promote waste sorting, clean recycling, “bring-your-own-bottle” and green sponsorships.
Despite expressing approval for some of the measures announced, green groups said Swire Coca-Cola needed to go further with its environmental initiatives.
“A more aggressive and substantial phasing out of plastic bottle packaging is needed if a prominent and effective reduction in plastic waste is expected,” said Cheng Luk-ki, director of Green Power.
“Waste reduction is key to the waste problem. Simply switching from one material to another is not desirable in this regard,” said Edwin Lau Che-feng, executive director of environmental group Green Earth. “Totally avoiding the use of containers is much more beneficial to the environment.”
“Water dispensers are helpful in waste reduction,” Lau added.
“But they should be coupled with promotion and education of the idea. More resources are needed on social and conventional media to promote the culture of bringing our own bottles and reducing the use of single-use bottles.”
In 2016, the daily quantity of municipal solid waste disposal was 10,345 tonnes, up 1.8 per cent from 2015, according to the Environmental Protection Department. Among them, plastics were the third-largest waste category, following food waste and paper, with a daily disposal quantity of 2,132 tonnes, or 20.6 per cent of the total.