Bill Sheehan (zerowaste@grrn.org)
Mon, 2 Aug 1999 10:25:30 -0400

August 2, 1999
Contact: Lance King (703) 582-7932


ATLANTA, GA - Coca-Cola's Chairman and CEO M.
Douglas Ivester is responsible for wasting
billions of plastic Coke bottles every year, a
nonprofit group charges in the first of a
series of paid advertisements appearing today
on the Op Ed Page of the New York Times.

"Coca-Cola is the beverage industry leader,
but their CEO Mr. Ivester is leading in the
wrong direction. Switching from recycled
glass bottles and aluminum cans, Coke's move
to plastics is creating a growing problem for
the environment, recycling and taxpayers,"
GrassRoots Recycling Network President Rick
Best said from his office in Sacramento,

The advertising campaign, combined with
Citizen Alerts sent to over 300,000 Working
Assets long distance customers in their July
phone bills, is a major expansion of the
GrassRoots Recycling Network project targeting
Coke's plastic bottle waste.

"Mr. Ivester announced plans to sell Coke in
recycled-plastic bottles in December 1990. He
said it would boost recycling and reduce
reliance on virgin plastic. During the test-
marketing, Mr. Ivester led the public
relations campaign touting consumer acceptance
and the fact that Coke's recycled-plastic
bottles met the company's rigorous standards,"
Best said.

"Coke's promise to recycle is easily
documented in the public record. Just read
Mr. Ivester's own words and Coca-Cola's
promotional materials," said Dr. Bill Sheehan,
national coordinator for GrassRoots Recycling
Network from its Athens, Georgia headquarters.

The Coca-Cola Company news release on December
4, 1990 contains the following statements from
Mr. Ivester: "Producing new plastic beverage
bottles with a blend of recycled plastic is a
significant step ahead in plastics recycling,"
says M. Douglas Ivester, senior vice
president, The Coca-Cola Company and
president, Coca-Cola USA. "The technology
will allow the 'closed loop' recycling of our
plastic bottles, just as our other suppliers
use recycled aluminum and steel for cans and
recycled glass for glass bottles."

According to the December 4, 1990 release, the
recycled plastic bottle "meets The Coca-Cola
Company's strict standards for product
quality, consumer safety and environmental

Coke stopped using recycled plastic bottles in
the United States 4 years ago, citing costs.
Since then, the company dramatically increased
reliance on virgin-plastic bottles with
introduction of the 20-ounce, single-serve
plastic bottle. "New plastic recycling
techniques approved by FDA add only a fraction
of a cent per bottle. And Coke uses recycled
plastic bottles - and even refillable plastic
bottles - in other countries," Dr. Sheehan
-more -
"Recycling rates for the PET plastic soda
bottle dropped from a peak of 50 percent in
1994 to only 35.6 percent in 1998 in the
United States. It is the biggest drop in a
recycling rate for any beverage packaging
material in this decade. Coke must take the
lion's share of responsibility as the industry
leader," said GRRN Consultant Lance King in
Washington, D.C. The Cola-Cola Company has 45
percent of the U.S. market and 50 percent of
the global market.

"Coke is creating the problem by switching to
plastic bottles with no recycled material.
They're pushing costs in a weak and unstable
market onto recycling businesses like mine, on
local government, taxpayers and the
environment," said Eco-Cycle Executive
Director Eric Lombardi. Eco-Cycle is the
largest nonprofit recycling business in the
nation. Founded in 1976, his organization
provides recycling services to 280,000
residents and 800 business clients in Boulder
County, Colorado.

"It's time for Coca-Cola to take
responsibility for the growing plastic bottle
waste and stop trying to pass the buck,"
Lombardi said.

Local governments feel the problem directly.
City councils and public agencies in
communities in 3 states have already passed
resolutions targeting Coke's plastic bottle
waste. These include: the City of
Gainesville, Florida; the Winona County Board
of Commissioners in Minnesota; and, in
California the City of West Hollywood, the
Alameda County Source Reduction and Recycling
Board, and the San Luis Obispo Integrated
Waste Management Authority.

"Local governments are paying to move our
recycled plastic soda bottles because Coke and
others are failing to do their part to build
stable markets," GRRN Board Member Anne Morse
said. Morse is the Winona County recycling
coordinator, with first-hand experience in
dealing with the growing plastic waste

Coca-Cola counters complaints about its
plastic bottles by citing high overall
recycling rates for all beverage containers
(aluminum, glass and plastic combined) and
saying it buys $2 billion worth of recycled
products and supplies annually in the U.S.

"Coke's management simply wants to change the
subject. But the facts speak for themselves.
In 1998, industry data shows that 2 of every 3
plastic Coke bottles sold in the United States
were dumped, not recycled. Mr. Ivester's
company is using more virgin plastic and less
recycled packaging. The problem is getting
worse, not better," said King.

Pat Franklin, executive director of the
Arlington, Virginia-based Container Recycling
Institute, which provides independent analysis
of container and packaging policies and
trends, said "Coca-Cola is misleading the
public by claiming credit for high beverage
container recycling rates. The highest
recycling rates are all in 'bottle bill'
states, where deposits create a financial
incentive to recycle. Coke has fought bottle
bills for 30 years, spending tens of millions
of dollars, and continues to oppose these laws

"We are gaining support among public
officials, recycling leaders,
environmentalists, consumers, and Coca-Cola
shareholders for our campaign - with 88
endorsers in 26 states. Through the
advertising campaign, GRRN expects to reach
millions more people," Dr. Sheehan said. For
more information see the GRRN Internet web-
site at www.grrn.org.


NOTE: The above ad should be viewable on
GRRN's website (www.grrn.org) later today.