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Coca-Cola, which produces more than 3 million tons of plastic packaging a year, wants to fix world's plastic waste problem


Coca-Cola wants to “help tackle the world’s plastic waste problem one community at a time.” (Gene J. Puskar / AP)

Turns out, you can beat the real thing — or at least make it better.

Coca-Cola, which reportedly produced more than 3 million tons of plastic packaging in 2017, announced Thursday it wants to “help tackle the world’s plastic waste problem one community at a time.”

The soda giant is doing so by providing $5.4 million in grants for recycling pilot programs in Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Essex County, N.J., Houston, Long Beach, Calif., and Orange County, Fla.

In these cities, grant recipients such as The Recycling Partnership, The Green Blue Institute in Orange County, Fla., Keep Houston Beautiful and the Boston Parks and Recreation Foundation will partner with local governments and environmental groups to improve recycling rates.

“Our global giving priorities focus on areas where we have the ability to make the biggest impact on sustainable communities through both our funding and the collective skills and expertise of Coca-Cola employees,” Carlos Pagoagoa, Coca-Cola’s group director of community partnerships, said in a statement.

“In each pilot city, local partners will work together to identify barriers to recycling on a local level and test a range of solutions,” he added. “We hope the learnings from these ‘model markets’ can offer solutions to other cities facing similar challenges.”

As part of the effort, The Recycling Partnership and the city of Atlanta, where the cola company’s headquarters are based, will send street teams out to open recycling carts and leave residents cards informing them what they can and can’t recycle, and let them know how their efforts fare.

“Two of the most pressing issues with recycling in the U.S. today are lack of access, followed by contamination in the recycling stream,” Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership, said in a statement. “We know from our successful 2017 Atlanta pilot that the city’s residents want to recycle, and that communicating with them at the cart works.”

Last year, Coca-Cola announced its mission to collect and reuse the equivalent of a bottle or can for each one it sells, and grow the amount of recycled materials it uses in its products to 50% by 2030.

The brand also aims to make all its packaging fully recyclable by 2025.