The University and students go over environmental issues with

Mark Fearer (
Fri, 22 Jan 1999 16:53:59 -0500

I just saw this on a college wire service and thought it might be of

Mark Fearer

The University and students go over environmental issues with Coke
By Deborah Mora and Michele Steele
The Daily Illini (U. of Illinois)

(U-WIRE) CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Financial gain went up against environmental
loss Tuesday in a meeting between several University factions and
from Coke, the University's soon-to-be exclusive beverage provider.

The meeting addressed the environmental implications of introducing
environmentally un-friendly PET plastic bottles to vending machines,
as the only option or in addition to aluminum cans.

The 20 ounce plastic bottles would be sold for one dollar each and would
mean more revenue for both Coke as well as the University, whose revenue
from pouring rights depends on sales. But, PET plastic can only be
once and currently, the market for recycled plastic is miniscule.

Sara Clusen, representative from Students for Environmental Concerns
and senior in ACES said the University should refrain from acting like a
corporation on this issue and make environmental concerns top priority.

"I think Coke knows really knows what they want - to maximize profit -
and I
think the University wants revenue from pouring rights as the
time the University needs to act in a socially responsible way, their
business isn't to maximize profit."

Student trustee Todd Wallace agreed.

"We are willing to trade off that financial benefit for something that
environmentally friendly," Wallace said.

Wallace, senior in ACES, said the tradeoff is a 100 percent profit
motivation versus a 100 percent environmental motivation, with Coke
for profit and University going for the environment.

However, associate chancellor Judith Rowan said Coke does take
issues seriously. And because the University is not a corporation, it
be "bottom-line oriented."

Ultimately, there will be compromise on both sides.

"We want to nail down what is mutually beneficial for both Coke and the
University on the environment issue," Wallace said.

"I think Coke is willing to deal," Wallace said.

Clusen said Coke might see student boycotts if the University accepts
plastic bottles.

"Students at the University of Virginia are boycotting PET plastic. If
University is inundated with plastic, that would be a good reponse."

Clusen said more plastic would result in more litter and more cost on
part of the University in terms of getting rid of the plastic. On these
points, recycling coordinator for University Operations and Maintenance
Hoss concurred.

Clusen also said more plastic would keep the University from reaching
state mandated waste quota. Hoss wasn't sure Clusen was right on this

"I don't know if it's going to have an impact in terms of the
(the mandate)...the tonnage (from plastic) is not that great," Hoss

Hoss added that his hope was that more plastic wouldn't lead to "an
of waste generation on campus and other waste handling problems."

He also said he wanted to be "assured we can recycle these materials."

Rowan said she thought Coke representatives came away from the meeting
a better understanding of what the issues are.

Clusen said she was confident in the University making environmental
concerns an issue with Coke.

"It was made clear to us by the administration that they are serious
keeping their mind on environmental issues... because the administration
taking the issue seriously I think there will be (a fair mix of aluminum
plastic) or at least a better mix than if it was left up to Coke

Environmental concerns aside, the University still has not dismissed PET
plastic bottles altogether.

Rowan asked Operations and Maintance to try and devlop an analysis how
it would cost to develop a component to add plastic recycling to the
recycling prgram. There will be another meeting with Coke and the
industry before the end of the year.

Clusen stressed Coke is looking to make money - but should do so with a

"At the same time they need to realize that just because they're making
greater profit, doesn't mean it's a socially responsible choice."

=A9 Daily Illini

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