Plastic pollution is suffocating our oceans, and leading to the destruction of multiple species of fish. One of the largest producers of plastic bottles - Coca-Cola - has promised to take steps to curb this environmental crisis. Are these empty promises or is Coke really dedicated to enacting meaningful change? The DW Documentary series takes this major corporation to task in Plastic Tide: Choking on Coke.
Across their various beverage brands, Coca-Cola sells over 400 million plastic bottles every year, and as many as 10% of these bottles will end their life span on the ocean floor. As we witness in the earliest moments of the film, much of these plastic remnants are consumed by unsuspecting sea life.
Coca-Cola believes they have a solution. Promoting a "World without Waste", they envision a future of indefinite recycling. Historically, however, large organizations like Coke have shirked responsibility for the pollution epidemic. Instead, through overwhelmingly popular advertising campaigns like "Keep America Beautiful", they have aimed their critical finger squarely at the consumer. It's not the sheer amount of plastic bottles they produce that contributes to pollution, they claim, but the carelessness of those who drink from them.
In addition, the company has promised to package their products in recycle plastics for decades, yet have failed to deliver on that promise. In fact, as we are instructed during the course of the film, they currently use only 7% recycled plastic. The filmmakers secure a series of confidential corporate records that further illustrate the company's impotence. Collectively, they portray a company policy that values the cause of environmental responsibility only as an empty campaign slogan.
The filmmakers call upon the expertise of environmental specialists, marine biologists and other highly qualified researchers of ocean pollution to support their case. The film also explores the big business of recycling by travelling to Tanzania, one of the most robust regions in the world for the importation of recyclable waste. From there, the cameras observe teams of workers climbing and sifting through literal mountains of plastic-based trash.
Plastic Tide: Choking on Coke does a noble job of summarizing a seemingly insurmountable problem.
Directed by: Sandrine Rigaud