I don't drink Coca-Cola. Not because they're changing the lid, not because they're changing the flavours, but because my parents banned it. Some might consider this unnecessarily cruel, but it's left me with a lifelong aversion to the stuff and I don't touch it unless under considerable duress and it's mixed with a decent amount of rum.
Coke is a generic product which is easily copied and has little, if any, nutritional benefit, yet it has managed to thrive for over 100 years, even without my custom. History suggests they know what they're doing. Despite this, there's a bit of fuss at the moment about Coke's proposed changes to packaging and flavours and how this might affect sales. To be honest, I don't think this will really be a problem.
All Coke flavours are new
Coke's originator, John Pemberton, like many Civil War survivors, was a morphine addict from his wounds and wanted a product to help wean him off it. In the 1880s he developed Pemberton's French Wine Coca which contained a sturdy cocktail of wine, cocaine and caffeine. Not only was this claimed to cure most ailments, but it was also advertised as "a most wonderful invigorator of the sexual organs". Coke has always been good at marketing.
Over the years a lot of fun was stripped out of the product. The wine was dropped from the formula when prohibition was introduced in Atlanta, Coke's hometown, and the name was changed to Coca-Cola. Later the cocaine was dropped because, although still legal, it was thought to be a little too good at invigorating users. Then the kola nut was dropped because, let's face it, there are cheaper ways to produce caffeine than shipping it in from West Africa. Later on, variants were made without sugar when people finally became aware that it came with drawbacks too.
Despite losing most of its fun ingredients Coke sales have kept up even in the face of cheaper and better tasting products. Consequently, it seems unlikely that amalgamating "Coke Zero" and "Coke No Sugar" to make "Coke Zero Sugar" will really make that much difference to anyone apart from the most pedantic of pedants.
New bottle caps
Coca-Cola bottles cause massive pollution around the world. This is not necessarily because they're worse than other manufacturers, but just because they sell so much of the bloody stuff. They have announced their intention to change this by attaching the plastic lid to the plastic bottle, making it unlikely that the lid will be thrown away separately. I suspect that the fidgeting hands of teenagers will have other ideas.
This move didn't come about from the goodness of the Coke marketing team, but because the EU told them to do it, which makes it forced compliance rather than thoughtful initiative. Of course, if the bottle is tossed aside then the lid goes with it, truck and trailer.
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Most bottles in New Zealand are recyclable, but it's a bit pointless if we don't actually recycle them. Estimates vary, but it's certainly a minority of plastic that is actually recycled. The rest goes into landfills. Or turtles.
If only there was a solution
When I was a kid I lived in Epsom in the UK, home to the Epsom Derby, one of the most famous horse races in the world. Up to a quarter of a million people, mostly drunk, would spread themselves around the course leaving an extraordinary amount of mess when they headed home. Like other local kids, I became an entrepreneur and went around collecting the bottles to claim the deposit for returning the empties. Similar incentives work In Australia where, despite opposition from the soft drink industry, most states have passed legislation insisting on bottle deposits. This allows the Scouts, and others, to make a fortune from collecting them.
The bottle deposits in Germany lead to 98 per cent of their bottles being recycled, mainly because of the cash but also because they're, well, German. We could get even better than that because we're Kiwi and we like a challenge. The Government is working on this but rather slowly.
Of course, we'd be much better off if we just drank water out of the tap, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Someone's got to keep dentists in a job.
(By the way, if anyone's grandparents left a secret stash of Pemberton's French Wine Coca knocking about then please let me know. Asking for a friend.)