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Coalition Letter to
Coca-Cola Company

M. Douglas Ivester
CEO, The Coca-Cola Company
One Coca-Cola Plaza
Atlanta, GA 30313
January 21, 2000

Mr. Ivester:

We are writing on behalf of the Earth Day 2000, the ecopledge.com and our joint Green Pledge Campaign to ask you to use 25% recycled content in Coca-Cola’s plastic beverage containers.

The new millennium has brought with it abundant opportunities for real and positive change. Consumers and investors want to restore their faith in Coca-Cola and put the tumultuous times behind them. Yet, Coke’s continued consumption of virgin plastic places it on unsteady ground with consumers concerned about environmental issues such as recycling. We urge you to take this opportunity to step up as an industry leader and play an active role in solving our solid waste problem.

Evidence of how Coke has "dropped the bottle" is apparent to consumers below:

  • In one of the first press releases describing the switch to recycled plastic nine years ago, Mr. Ivester talked of Coke’s concern to protect the environment by "producing new plastic beverage bottles with a blend of recycled plastic is a significant step ahead in plastics recycling." Only a few months later, Coke stated that, "More than half of all soft drink cans are recycled and we want to reach and exceed that level with plastic packaging." Yet, only a few years later, the program was dropped and recycling rates for plastic soda bottles plummeted to 35.6 percent in 1998.

  • Spokespersons for the Coca-Cola Company have claimed that the recycled PET plastic program was dropped because it was "not economically feasible." However, according to the April 1997 edition of Plastics Recycling Update, the price for recycled PET resin is only 6 cents per pound more than virgin plastic. Furthermore, both blending and layering plastic technology cost no more than two-tenths of a cent per bottle compared to an approximate 20 cents per bottle profit. The bigger picture is that adding 25% recycled plastic would reduce profits by less than 0.5 percent. These costs would decrease further as recycled PET becomes more abundant through increased corporate and consumer recycling.

  • What is even more appalling to consumers is that Coca-Cola has already instituted recycled plastic technology in other countries such as Australia, Sweden and Switzerland while trying to maintain an All-American image in the United States. Obviously, Coke’s actions appear to put concern for others’ environment above that for its own backyard.


The two of every three plastic Coke bottles that are littered or dumped into our already burdened landfills will remain there for decades or centuries to come. Therefore, we must act now to make smart decisions that will sustain good business and environmental conditions.

Our request is a sensible one. We ask Coca-Cola to use 25% recycled content in its plastic bottles. As senior vice president, Mr. Ivester pledged to take major steps forward to reduce Coke’s use of virgin plastic materials. As his successor and an avid outdoorsman, it is imperative you guide the Company acts towards environmental protection. The time is now to put serious environmental concerns before profits and keep that pledge.

As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Earth Day, consumers’ concern for the environment is piqued. We are now prepared to take that concern into the buying, investing and working arenas. Consumers, investors, and students throughout the country have pledged not to buy from, invest in, or work for Coca-Cola if you do not take this simple, sensible action to protect the planet. Should you not take action to increase recycled plastic use to 25% in your bottles, prior to Earth Day, April 22, we will organize across the nation to encourage consumers, investors and college students to seek alternative products.

It is time for Coca-Cola to join the growing number of companies that are working towards a real solution to the problem of recycling solid waste. Take the responsible step of instituting 25% recycled content in Coke’s plastic bottles - before its too late.

You can reach me at 617-292-4800 or Wendy Wendlandt of Earth Day 2000 at 310-397-5270.



Andy MacDonald

Wendy Wendlant
Earth Day 2000

email us at earthday2000@juno.com


march 2000

©1999 Earth Day 2000