The Ocean Cleanup and Coca-Cola announce global agreement to clean up rivers and oceans

The Coca-Cola Company became the first global partner to join the river project of The Ocean Cleanup, an NGO that protects natural waters. The unique partnership brings the international company and technological non-profit together behind a clear objective: to stem the tide of plastic pollution entering the world’s oceans, by first intercepting waste in rivers. Coca-Cola Hungary has been working together with the organizers of the Plastic Cup for years, and the lessons of the Ocean Cleanup project will be used in Hungary through global knowledge sharing to further clean up Tisza River.

Our rivers carry waste collected during their journey all the way to the seas and oceans, which eventually ends up and accumulates in standing waters. Being a global issue, it is not possible to solve it at the local level or task a given community to do it: a cross-border cooperation is needed. To that end, Coca-Cola is now offering part of its resources coming from its global size and international network to support the work of The Ocean Cleanup NGO.

Partnering Coca-Cola’s scale and global network with The Ocean Cleanup’s technology and data solutions, the initiative will help to expedite the deployment of cleanup systems across fifteen rivers around the world over the next 18 months, including the introduction and implementation of The Ocean Cleanup’s semi-autonomous solar-powered Interceptor™ river cleanup solutions. It also aims to engage and mobilize both industry and individuals around the world to address plastic pollution, eliminating plastic waste entering the world’s oceans and supporting ecosystems, species, and water resources.

“The Ocean Cleanup’s mission is to rid the oceans of plastic,” said Boyan Slat, Founder and CEO, The Ocean Cleanup. “With 1000 rivers emitting nearly 80% of river-carried plastic into oceans, this massive problem grows by the day, which is why we are always looking to accelerate our progress. Among the waste we collect with our cleanup systems, we find many plastic bottles, including Coca-Cola packaging, so I applaud them for being the first in the industry to join our mission, as part of their wider actions to make a positive impact on worldwide plastic pollution. Our clear intent is to take our learnings from this partnership, which has the potential to evolve in the future, and continue to scale rapidly. That’s why I believe this is good news for our oceans.”

Through the partnership, The Ocean Cleanup together with Coca-Cola, will tackle fifteen rivers by the end of 2022, with the two organizations working collaboratively towards their shared goal of eliminating waste. Two Interceptors included in this partnership have already been installed by The Ocean Cleanup in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic and Can Tho, Vietnam. For these rivers, the partnership will help provide support in the development of waste management solutions for collected trash and the organizations plan to extend the footprint of the project across thirteen additional rivers.

In addition to taking global responsibility, Coca-Cola Hungary also pays serious attention to the clean-up and protection of local waters. Protecting the waters and floodplains of Danube River and Tisza River has been a priority of the company for years; it has established long-term cooperation with non-profit organizations operating in the area. The Zero Waste Tisza project is funded by the company's global foundation, The Coca-Cola Foundation. Part of it is the Plastic Cup initiative that organizes several waste collection campaigns on different sections of the river, with the participation of volunteer civilians and water management specialists. The collected plastic packaging is properly processed after selection and can be used again once it is re-introduced into the cycle, maybe even as packaging again. Coca-Cola is committed to becoming zero-waste in the long term; their global World Without Waste strategy aims to make all their packaging collectible, recyclable and reusable to empower a circular economy.

Beside waste collection, the project also provides active education. Supported by The Coca-Cola Foundation, the Plastic Cup draws attention to the importance of protecting our environment and shares practical tips on how to keep it intact with exhibitions, regular awareness lectures, movie screenings, and a knowledge base accessible to anyone. Last summer, they made a temporary installation called the Bottlenose Floating Harbor, which, in addition to the practical part of protecting the environment, also drew attention to the beauty of local life. All this through a creative reuse of plastic bottles collected from the river: they introduced the sights of coastal town after being transformed into floating piers, while demonstrating that every bottle matter if it gets into the right hands.

Coca-Cola has been collaborating with WWF on the Living Danube initiative for many years: they are running significant environmental and nature protection programs in Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Austria in order to save the river's water and wildlife.