If you make a mess, clean it up. But that's not an excuse to make a mess in the first place. Here's our opinion on collaborating with big polluters.
June 3, 2021
“We are going to get some flak for it.”
That was the opening line from Seabin founder Peter Ceglinski, as he announced his start-up's collaboration with Coca-Cola.
If you don’t know what a Seabin is, imagine one of those robot vacuum cleaners – but for the ocean. They're awesome!
Seabin’s project with Coke will remove microplastics, oil and other pollution from Sydney Harbour.
This sounds like a good thing, but Peter was right to be cautious.
Coke’s PR team has a tough gig... the comments section can be brutal! People (rightly) point out that Coke remains the number 1 source of marine plastic, and that their business model is fundamentally unsustainable.
Why would Seabin buddy up with a mega-polluter?
It comes down to kindergarten logic – if you make a mess, you clean it up. Coke needs to be part of the solution.
But if we’re following kindergarten logic, isn’t the next step for a business to learn to stop making a mess in the first place? Does partnering with Seabin give Coke a permission slip to keep pumping plastic into the environment?
Cleaning up your own mess isn’t an excuse to pollute in the first place.
Coke has come right out and said that they’re keeping their plastic (and there’s nothing you can do about it!) because consumers still want it. There's no plan to undertake the deeper business transformation needed. That's why we'd never recommend a business like Coke on the Greener app.
Instead, we need to keep the pressure on Coke, and other big polluters, to do better. We need to vote with our dollars, and buy drinks in aluminium and glass bottles when we can. Importantly, we need Governments to toughen up on plastics.
In terms of real-world outcomes, Seabin’s technology is good for the planet, wherever the funding comes from.
The clincher is that businesses like Coke also need a long-term game plan to transform their business into one that's truly sustainable. They should keep cleaning up their mess as they walk that path.
Just like transitioning from plastics to more sustainable materials, businesses need to shift from dirty energy to clean energy, from unfair business practices, to a system that works for everyone.
We’ve set a green standard that businesses have to meet to be recommended on the Greener app. And as the world gets greener, we’re committed to raising the bar over time.
Like the plastic problem, climate solutions need buy-in from big businesses.
That’s why you’ll see big names like Microsoft, IKEA, and Woolies on the Greener app. They're not perfect. But they are making major progress. Microsoft is cleaning up all the emissions they've ever created. IKEA is working towards being 100% powered by renewables. And Woolies is actively working towards net zero by 2050.
Just like Seabin is cleaning up plastic mess, Greener helps businesses clean up their emissions. We do that by funding Australian reforestation projects that make every purchase 100% carbon neutral.
As consumers vote with their wallets for greener stores, the economic case for climate action gets stronger. More businesses will lift their game.
We know we’ll cop some flak for partnering with the big guys.
We exist to end climate change. To do that, we need to collaborate with major players, and funnel big dollars into projects that capture and clean up emissions.
We’re here to fast-track real climate solutions, and hold businesses accountable along the way.