PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta and Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey discussed how their companies are reducing plastic waste during a World Economic Forum panel.
Coke and Pepsi are both working on plastic alternatives and ways to increase recycling.
Panelists did not agree on the use of biodegradable alternatives and whether consumers really care about the problem.
In a rare show of unity, PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta and Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey discussed during a World Economic Forum panel how their companies are reducing plastic use.
The other panelists — Dow Chemical CEO Jim Fitterling and government officials from Vietnam and France — agree that the plastic occupying landfills and polluting oceans is a problem. But they see different ways to address the issue.
In 2016, 480 billion plastic bottles were sold, with less than 50 percent collected for recycling and only 7 percent turned into new bottles, according to Euromonitor data.
Coca-Cola made 110 billion of those bottles. The company is working toward recovering and recycling the equivalent of 75 percent of the bottles it introduces in developed countries by 2020. Last month, the Atlanta-based company announced two investments in recycling technologies that will allow Coke to use recycled plastics for its bottles more efficiently.
Pepsi is aiming for all of its packaging to be recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025. Most recently, the food and beverage giant has been testing compostable bags for chips in Chile, India and the U.S.
But not everyone sees biodegradable as a viable solution for the world's plastic problem. Fitterling said that biodegradable alternatives will take much more time because companies must make sure that packaging still serves its original purpose: preserving the food and beverages.
Brune Poirson, the French Secretary of State to the Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, also noted that degrading plastic can release gases more damaging than carbon dioxide such as methane into the environment
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