A commercial featuring workers wearing shirts bearing the logos of Coca-Cola, Keurig Dr Pepper and PepsiCo and talking about the recyclability of plastic beverage bottles has been determined to be “aspirational” in part, and will be modified.
Titled “Back To One,” the spot in question—which makes environmental-benefit claims related to the American Beverage Association’s (ABA) Every Bottle Back Initiative—has run on national cable television channels and the ABA website.
It opens with a man in a Coca-Cola shirt saying “We need to reduce plastic waste in the environment.”
The National Advertising Division of the BBB National Programs self-regulatory body challenged some of the ad claims in November of 2022, and the ABA appealed the challenge to the BBB’s National Advertising Review Board (NARB).
NARB determined that several ad claims overstated both “the extent to which plastic bottles currently sold by ABA members are made from recycled plastic resulting in a reduction in plastic waste,” and the results of the ABA’s partnership with several organizations regarding plastic-waste reduction.
According to the NARB, two specific claims conveyed to “reasonable consumers” that a significant amount of recycled content is currently used by the industry to produce new single-use plastic bottles, with a resulting reduction in plastic waste today.
Those claims are “They’re collected and separated from other plastics so they can be turned back into material that we use to make new bottles," which “reduces plastic waste.”
The NARB decided that while ABA “may have intended simply to explain the potential for bottles to be recycled,” the ad went beyond that to conflate “current recycling practices and outcomes with aspirational practices and outcomes.”
In addition, the NARB said that ABA members are actively participating with third-party partners in their recycling efforts, but that the following claims overstated the actual work being done: “Working with World Wildlife Fund through their ReSource: Plastic to reduce our plastic footprint” and “Partnering with The Recycling Partnership and Closed Loop Partners to…modernize the recycling infrastructure in communities across the country.”
The ABA disagreed with NARB’s conclusions related to “our partnerships and the recycling process,” but said it “will comply with the NARB decision and explore how best to modify” ads.