Beverage giants cannot stay out of plastic reduction trend

13:29 | 18/04/2019
As plastic reduction is becoming an essential trend to save the environment, beverage companies, which still depend on tremendous amounts of plastic materials, cannot opt out of the trend.
beverage giants cannot stay out of plastic reduction trend
“The Parting of Plastic Sea” created by artist Van Wong

Giants like Starbucks, Tan Hiep Phat, and Coca-Cola, have shown the leadership required to minimise plastic waste. Recycling plastic waste and utilising environmentally friendly materials are the most common corporate initiatives.

Telling VIR about plastic reduction activities, the representative of local Tan Hiep Phat Beverage Group, said that the company’s R&D department is researching new materials to replace plastic bottles. In addition, the firm has also signed contracts with suppliers to treat or recycle efective products and wasted materials.

“We have a clear process to assess suppliers, and we only sign contracts with those who can treat the garbage,” said the representative.

Having been present in Vietnam for six years, US-based coffee chain Starbucks has been carrying out numerous activities to reduce plastic rubbish. A company representative shared with VIR that since they entered Vietnam in 2013, Starbucks has been giving a VND10,000 discount for each drink to customers bringing their own glass.

In early 2019, Starbucks Vietnam partnered up with artist Von Wong, Zero Waste Saigon Organisation, and real estate company Keppel Land Vietnam to exhibit “The Parting of Plastic Sea” made from more than 160,000 used plastic straws collected from across the country.

At the same time, Starbucks Vietnam has been using recycled PET (rPET) materials for some of its packaged products like straws, knives, spoons, and others. Especially, to limit the use of plastic straws, the coffee brand has introduced strawless cups.

Most recently, as part of the global Starbucks campaign, many kinds of reused plastic straws and cups are offered in coffee stores in Vietnam at the price of VND40,000-50,000 ($1.74-2.17).

“These straws and cups will be offered throughout the year. This is also a solution to replace single-use plastic cups as well as to reduce plastic waste reaching the environment,” said the representative.

Similarly, Coca-Cola, the world-leading beverage company, has been applying many similar activities in Vietnam over the past few years.

Due to the serious environmental impact, the European Parliament has voted to ban single-use plastic products. The decision is expected to come into force by 2021 in all European Union members.

In late 2018, Coca-Cola partnered up with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to carry out an environmental campaign on encouraging creative ideas to collect and recycle plastic rubbish. Coca-Cola also entered into co-operation with the British Council for a similar project aimed to boost social activities and raise awareness of environmental protection.

The British Council project was first applied in the Central Vietnamese city of Thua Thien Hue’s EKOCENTER in last September and then broaden to the other cities and provinces.

In addition to the environmental campaign, Coca-Cola’s R&D department has created diverse reuse packages and materialised activities to reduce the damage of environmental pollution.

Specifically, the beverage company set the target to cut carbon emissions during its manufacturing by using recycled materials like rPET and PlantBottle as packaging for their beverage products. Coca-Cola also set the goal of manufacturing 10 per cent of its Danasi mineral water bottles from rPET materials.

Over the past few years, plastic garbage has been a sizeable environmental concern in Vietnam. According to data published at last year’s Earth Day event, about 18,000 tonnes of plastic rubbish are generated every day in Vietnam. In addition, the country currently ranks 17th out of 109 countries in plastic waste pollution, according to the World Bank’s Urban Economy survey published on last October 12.

Plastic rubbish is a global obsession with more than 8 million tonnes of plastic rubbish pouring into the oceans without a sign of slowing down. It is forecast that by 2050, the ocean will have more plastic garbage than fish, according to the United Nations.

By Hoang Van

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