m e d i a
Campaign urges Coca-Cola to score one for recycling.
Thursday, January 27, 2000
Atlanta (January 27) - Citizens and environmental groups gathered downtown in Woodruff Park on Thursday morning to kick off a new stage of a campaign to urge Coca-Cola to keep a pledge made nine years ago to use twenty-five percent recycled content in its plastic bottles. A twenty-foot inflatable Coca-Cola bottle will be on display in Atlanta through Super Bowl Weekend before it begins a nationwide tour stopping at college campuses in major Coca-Cola markets.
"Coca-cola should score one for recycling this Superbowl Sunday," said Jill Johnson of Earth Day 2000. "Consumers, investors, and students call on Coca-Cola to take a simple, sensible action in honor of Earth Day," continued Johnson.
As senior vice president, Coca-Cola CEO M. Douglas Ivester announced a program to use twenty-five percent recycled plastic in the company's plastic soda bottles in 1990. He boasted, "More than half of all soft drink cans are recycled and we want to reach and exceed that level with plastic packaging." (PR Newswire, March 1991) However, that goal was never achieved because Coca-Cola quietly dropped the program several years later. Since then, recycling rates for plastic soda bottles have plummeted from a peak of 50 percent in 1994 to 35.6 percent in 1998, according to industry data.
"Coca-Cola has tried every excuse in the book," said Bill Sheehan, coordinator for the GrassRoots Recycling Network, which launched the campaign targeting Coke in April 1997. More than 100 environmental, business, consumer and student organizations from across the country have endorsed the campaign. "The plain truth is that enough plastic Coke bottles were discarded in just the past year to fill 3 Georgia Domes."
Coca-Cola contends that it stopped using recycled PET plastic because it was not economically feasible. Yet, according to Plastics Recycling Update, adding 25 percent recycled plastic to Coke's bottles would only cost the company one-half of one percent of its annual profits. Furthermore, Coca-Cola uses bottles with recycled plastic in other countries including Australia, Sweden and Switzerland.
"Super Bowl Weekend is the perfect time to unveil a twenty foot tall inflatable Coke bottle," reasoned Johnson. "Coca-Cola has put a lot of effort into advertising for the Super Bowl. When people see the Coca-Cola name, they need to know exactly what this company stands for."
In October, Coca-Cola was named as a campaign target at ECOnference, an environmental conference held in Philadelphia, attended by nearly 3000 college activists from hundreds of college campuses across the nation. If Coke cannot undertake its original pledge to use recycled plastic in its Coke bottles by the thirtieth anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, 2000, thousands of college students, investors and consumers have pledged not to work for, invest in or buy from the company. The Green Pledge Campaign is a joint effort of Earth Day 2000 and the Dirty Jobs Boycott, a project of the Student PIRGs (Public Interest Research Groups), Sierra Student Coalition, Green Corps and Free the Planet. These groups, in conjunction with the GrassRoots Recycling Network, have plans to tour the twenty-foot tall inflatable bottle across the nation with stops in major Coca-Cola markets.
"We are seeking a public commitment from Coca-Cola to use 25 percent recycled plastic to make new soda bottles and curb plastic waste," said Sheehan.
The Coca-Cola inflatable will be on display Saturday in Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta before moving onto other cities in February.
Earth Day 2000 is the consumer clearinghouse for the environmental decade working with consumers to encourage corporations to be environmentally responsible and to keep the 30th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, 2000 free of corporate greenwashing. Earth Day 2000 is leading efforts to call on some of America's leading corporations to take simple, sensible actions to save the planet prior to Earth Day 2000. Consumers and investors are joining students on college campuses taking a "Green Pledge" to withhold their working, buying and investment power from companies that fail to take that pledge. In this case, Coca-Cola is being asked to meet its pledge of 25 percent recycled content in its plastic bottles.
The GrassRoots Recycling Network is a North American network of community-based activists dedicated to achieving a sustainable economy based on the principle of Zero Waste. GRRN advances the principle of producer responsibility for product and packaging waste through opinion maker education and direct consumer action. GRRN highlights responsible corporations and targets wasteful corporations by direct consumer action.