This video is sponsored by skillshare [, Music ]. This story starts in one of the most populous cities in tanzania, dar salaam in the middle of the city. There lies a shining blue mountain, but this mountain is not built of rock and dirt.
It's, built of plastic bottles, a huge pile of plastic bottles that grows upwards towards the clouds and up those steep slopes, walk workers, lugging bags of even more plastic weighing over 70 kilograms.
Today we're, going to look at the environmental impact of coca-cola, its use of plastic water and how that all ties back to this plastic mountain and doris salaam, [ Music ] in may of 1886 pharmacist john pemberton wanted to try something a little Different, he decided to combine a newly concocted syrup recipe with the bubbly texture of carbonated water, the patrons of pemberton's pharmacy in atlanta georgia.
The recipe was a hit, but it wasn't until a shrewd businessman named asa candler bought the secret formula that coke truly became a phenomenon. Kandler aggressively marketed the coca-cola syrup to pharmacies and soda fountains throughout the atlanta area, and soon the brand began.
Its climb to dominance alongside savvy marketing coca-cola did one other thing that made it so successful. It kept distribution costs low by tapping into local water sources. At first, the company only sold syrup, so soda fountains would have to use their own carbonated water.
But as the company dove into the bottled soda industry, the factories began to draw heavily from the local watersheds. So coke is not only a soda company, but also a water company and the drain. The coca-cola brand puts on local water supplies is substantial.
Let's zoom in to india, where coke runs 58 bottling facilities out of just one of those factories. Coke. Typically, produces around 860 000 bottles per day and, according to a third party assessment of coke in 2010, to make one half liter bottle of coke.
The company uses 150 to 300 liters of water. 99.8 of this water footprint does come from supply chain ingredients like water, intensive sugarcane and the actual water used in the production process is roughly 1.
9 liters, but for coke, which relies on local supply chains for ingredients, their bottling facility's. Footprint can be devastating for the surrounding communities. Indeed, in 2004, coca-cola was ordered to shut down a bottling facility in kerala india because it was sucking up too much groundwater and again, in 2014, another coke factory in varanasi was forced to shut down after local farmers and community members rose up and drew attention to The facility's drain on local aquifers and once again, in 2016, india's.
Central pollution control board found a coke plant in harpoor, in violation of multiple environmental regulations, including discharging wastewater into a pond. Local farmers used for irrigation, not using sewage treatment plants and using polluting boilers and diesel generators.
In short, coke has had a track record among its bottling sites of draining and polluting watersheds to produce as much product as possible in 2020. However, coke claims things are different. It's now, claiming that it replenishes 100 of the water it uses to create its beverages back to local systems, but according to an investigative report from the verge, this is just greenwashing.
Much like carbon offsets. Coke is just investing in water projects to achieve a water neutral impact. Coke is doing some work to make its water impact more efficient, but they are, on the whole, continuing with business as usual.
They invest in sanitation and well digging projects in rural areas, as well as support water conservation, nonprofits to disguise their dismal history of water use and, to add insult to injury. Some of these coke-funded projects cause more harm than good, like the digging of irrigation trenches in national parks in mexico to improve growing conditions for saplings, even though scientific studies as well as the mexican government's, forestry commission concluded the practice did not improve Growing conditions, but it did increase erosion and forest degradation, but for coke water use is just one part of the problem: [ Music, ] coca-cola is the leading beverage provider around the world.
It sells 1.9 billion drinks every single day and almost all of those beverages are wrapped in plastic, because coke has a plastic problem, but that wasn't, always the case. Back in the 1950s, coke bottles were made of glass in the 1950s.
When coke was dispensed in glass bottles, they actually had a self-imposed deposit of 40 cents. Coke wanted their expensive glass bottles back, so they could reuse them. Essentially, before the introduction of cheap plastic, coke was the one that had to deal with their trash, not the consumer.
As a result, they used durable, reusable glass bottles that could be used time and time again to cut down on the costs of bottling fast forward. To today and plastic bottles are now synonymous with the coca-cola brand.
Indeed, coke recently admitted to producing over 3 million metric tons of plastic every single year. An article from the guardian calculates that that's, the equivalent of creating 200 000 plastic bottles.
Every single minute, although coke's, plastic is made from an easily recycled pet plastic. Most coke bottles, don't end up in the recycling bin. An audit that looked at thousands of pieces of ocean trash found that coke was the most polluting brand in 2018 and 2019.
So, with its transition away from glass, coke moved the burden from the company onto individuals requiring consumers to do much of the work of ocean. Cleanup and recycling - indeed it's, no coincidence that the infamous and highly problematic crying native american commercial calling on the public to recycle was released.
Around the same time, beverage companies began churning out plastic bottles in the u.s people start pollution. People can stop it. This commercial, as it would later turn out, was sponsored by several bottling manufacturers in short, beginning in the 1970s, coke embraced cheaper production at the expense of surrounding communities, environments and whole oceans, which is exactly what happened in dar es salaam.
Over the last seven years, back in the tanzanian city, the plastic mountain is still piled high. All because beverage producers, like the coke factory nearby, switched from a glass bottle deposit system to the quote-unquote recyclable plastic model.
An investigative documentary by java films visited one of the four coke factories in tanzania which, up until seven years ago, only produced glass bottles. The glass bottles were more expensive to buy, but once you return them to the coke factory, you would receive your deposit back in 2013.
However, the coca-cola facility switched almost all of their beverages over to plastic bottles, much as they did in the u.s during the 1970s. The result has been excessive plastic pollution and the arrival of a gruesome poverty economy.
Centered around recycling people searched through piles of trash on beaches and landfills, often cutting themselves on sharp metal or syringes all to collect the p-e-t bottles that coke churns out after hours of enduring this harsh labor.
These pickers then hand over their fines for meager pay and many of those bottles make it to that mountain of plastic, which happens to be a recycling collection and sorting facility in doris a lot there.
Workers must make the perilous trek up that ever growing plastic mountain, because the recycling industry is crumbling specifically. China has recently stopped accepting foreign recyclable goods, and now there's.
Nowhere for that plastic mountain in dar salaam to go so coca-cola did away with a system of reuse that, according to a coke commissioned environmental assessment, was the most ecologically sound and instead embraced a system of plastic that indiscriminately pollutes the environment and places the cost and Burden of cleanup onto individuals, isn't coke running a campaign called a world without waste, aren't, they engaging in environmental campaigns and working towards goals for the better yes, but this is a classic example of how corporate social responsibility allows.
Companies to distract consumers from the real damage they're doing yes, coke is sponsoring ocean cleanup, nonprofits and investing in quote unquote plant-based bottling plastics, but this greenwashes the fact that if coke had not switched from a glass deposit system in the first place, The problem would not exist.
Indeed. Coke has consistently lobbied against deposit systems for decades because, as the author of the book citizen, coke explains because ultimately it means it means higher costs for them and in the end this was a way of this was forcing them to internalize their pollution costs.
In addition, the investigative report from the verge notes that coke has spent tens of millions of dollars on water efficiency and access projects in partnerships with groups ranging from the un development program to the u.
s agency for international development, making it a darling of the organizations that Track corporate citizenship, essentially, coke, is causing a mortal wound on the earth, then is turning around and offering to patch it up with some band-aids and then is using their 4 billion annual marketing budget to try to make it look like they're saving.
The environment, in this way, coca-cola reveals the various ways that multinationals in a neo-liberal capitalist economy seek growth at all costs, but then turn around and market themselves as good samaritans cleaning up the problems that they themselves created.
Coca-Cola will never be the one to solve plastic pollution and water scarcity, but there are real solutions to these problems like glass, deposit systems and they're effective because they address the problem at the source.
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