Coca-Cola celebrates one year anniversary of Mekong cleanup project

By Phong Van   May 31, 2023 | 07:00 pm PT
The Coca-Cola Company, a global implementation partner for The Ocean Cleanup, has launched a short film titled "River Tales" telling the story of their partnership in Vietnam.

River Tales is a four-minute short documentary produced by Coca-Cola about The Ocean Cleanup’s Interceptor technology in the Mekong region, shining a light on how plastic pollution is impacting the Can Tho River and the opportunity to make a tangible difference through technology and community action.

The Interceptor Original is the first scalable technology solution to prevent plastic from entering the world’s oceans from rivers, and after years of planning, Interceptor 003 was first launched into the Can Tho River in December 2021 and is operated by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment of Can Tho City.

Positioned downstream from the popular Can Tho floating market, the Interceptor has collected an estimated 120 tonnes of waste in its first year of deployment.

A scene from the River Tales film. Photo by Coca-Cola

A scene from the "River Tales" film. Photo by Coca-Cola

Beyond financial support, Coca-Cola has contributed to The Ocean Cleanup in Vietnam including driving on-the-ground awareness of the project and its mission, advocating for the project locally, and providing waste management advice.

The Can Tho River was one of the first rivers selected under the global partnership between the two organizations announced in June 2021.

Interceptor 003 was first launched into the Can Tho River in December 2021. Photo by Coca-Cola

Interceptor 003 was first launched into the Can Tho River in December 2021. Photo by Coca-Cola

The initial success of the Mekong project has made it a blueprint for projects on other rivers around the world. Interceptor solutions have since been deployed in Los Angeles, Jamaica and future projects have been announced for the Chao Phraya River in Thailand, Cisadane in Indonesia and Rio Las Vacas, Guatemala.

"The project in Vietnam has proven to be a valuable learning experience for our partnership, which we apply to follow-up deployments in other rivers around the world," said Tames Rietdijk, Director of Rivers at The Ocean Cleanup.

"I am looking forward to continuing our work as partners on our mission to rid the world's oceans of plastic, and lay the foundation to tell many more River Tales after this first beautiful story about Interceptor 003 in Can Tho."

Leonardo Garcia, general manager of Coca-Cola Vietnam and Cambodia said: "We are proud of this unique partnership and our whole team on the ground has been delighted to contribute to the mission of The Ocean Cleanup through local business knowledge and insights."

"River Tales shines a light on this partnership in Vietnam as we work together to make an impact and expand technological solutions that prevent plastic waste from entering the ocean further in Southeast Asia and beyond."

The Ocean Cleanup’s Interceptor technology reveals how plastic pollution is impacting  the Can Tho River. Photo by Coca-Cola

The Ocean Cleanup’s Interceptor technology reveals how plastic pollution is impacting the Can Tho River. Photo by Coca-Cola

The Coca-Cola Company is taking holistic actions to tackle the issue of plastic waste through its vision for a World Without Waste. In 2020, Coca-Cola launched the 100% recycled plastic (rPET) bottle (excluding cap and label) in Vietnam for its Dasani 500ml. In 2021, Coca-Cola Vietnam switched Sprite from its iconic green bottle to a clear PET plastic bottle, to boost local recycling of Sprite bottles.

The company rolled out the "Recycle Me" message on its packaging labels across its portfolio to encourage consumers to help recycle. Coca-Cola is also partnering with other companies to establish Packaging Recycling Organization Vietnam with the goal of promoting a circular economic model through a more accessible and sustainable packaging collection and recycling process in Vietnam.

In 2022, Coca-Cola Vietnam introduced bottles made from 100% recycled PET plastic (rPET), excluding caps and labels, across the country.

The Ocean Cleanup is an international non-profit organization that develops and scales technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. They aim to achieve this goal through a dual strategy: stemming the inflow via rivers and cleaning up the legacy plastic that has already accumulated in the ocean. For the latter, The Ocean Cleanup develops large-scale systems to efficiently concentrate the plastic for periodic removal.

This plastic is tracked and traced through DNV’s chain of custody model to certify claims of origin when recycling it into new products. To curb the tide via rivers, The Ocean Cleanup has developed Interceptor solutions to halt and extract riverine plastic before it reaches the ocean.

Founded in 2013 by Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup now employs a broadly multi-disciplined team of approximately 140. The foundation is headquartered in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

The company is also fully committed to creating shared value in the communities it serves by ensuring that sustainability is at the core of its business operations.

Coca-Cola continues building sustainable communities in locations where the company operates. Since 2010, Coca-Cola has invested millions of dollars in community projects in Vietnam. This includes programs such as the EKOCENTER, providing clean water, empowering women and local SMEs, supporting families in hardship, and sending disaster relief.

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