Support for glass bottles' return grows

A petition seeking to bring back recently ditched glass bottling for Coca-Cola products in Samoa has reached nearly 700 signatures with its original author describing the support as a good start.

In early April, environmentalist and President of the Samoa Conservation Society (S.C.S.) James Atherton had started a petition for global soft drink maker Coca-Cola to rethink their plastic bottle switch and bring back the glass bottles.

Nearly two weeks after it was launched, more than 600 people have signed the petition.

Mr. Atherton was asked how he feels about the support the petition has received and stated in a response to Samoa Observer queries that it is a good start, and the purpose is to raise awareness. 

“If Coke listens, that would be a big bonus! There are also discussions ongoing between [Government] of Samoa and Coke on this issue and talk of a container deposit scheme which we support,” he said. 

“Bottom line - we want big bottlers to think more about the environmental impact of their practices not just the bottom line AND the public to think more about the environmental impact of their consumer choices.

“Where possible buy products in glass not plastic, but if you must buy plastic bottles please re- use them or use the recycling bins around town.”

The petition also explains the environmental and social impacts of the shift from glass bottles to plastic.

“For more than 40 years Samoa had been bottling Coca Cola and other beverages in glass bottles in Samoa,” the petition states.

“If you consider their lifetime, returnable and reusable glass bottles have a much lower carbon footprint than plastic as well as being more hygienic and essentially inert and therefore non-toxic. After use they can be repurposed as crushed glass in concrete production.

The petition also states that in Samoa approximately 7,000 tonnes of plastic are consumed every year, amounting to around 34kg plastic/per person/year.

The petition explains that it is estimated that around 12 per cent of the plastic in Samoa is burnt or dumped; that is, there is a high littering rate in Samoa, much of which ends up in the ocean; and that plastics are one of the biggest components of our waste and make up around 16 per cent of Samoa’s waste by weight.

“Samoa’s National Waste Management Strategy (2019-2023) has a stated aim of a reduction in plastic pollution and this will require stricter controls on plastic imports,” the petition states.

The petition explains that in highly developed countries like Australia only around 12% of plastic is recycled and the rate in developing countries is far lower.

“In the absence of an effective recycling process in Samoa, most plastic bottles will end up in landfill and/or will be littered,” the petition states.

Plastics breaks down in the environment to produce microplastics, according to the petition, that can end up in the food chain and water supply and can harm or kill fish and wildlife and ultimately cause human health problems.

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