[GRRN] Reuters Coke story

Bill Sheehan (zerowaste@grrn.org)
Tue, 3 Aug 1999 00:05:32 -0400


By Jim Loney
August 2, 1999

MIAMI (Reuters) - U.S. soft-drink giant Coca-
Cola Co.broke a promise made nine years ago to
use recycled plastic in its soda bottles, an
environmental group dedicated to recycling
said Monday.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, battered recently by
contamination scares in Belgium and France and
raids by European antitrust regulators, denied
it had broken a promise and defended its
environmental record.

In an advertisement in Monday's New York Times
featuring a picture of a crushed plastic Coke
bottle, the GrassRoots Recycling Network of
Athens, Georgia, said the company promised in
1990 to use recycled plastic in its bottles,
then completely halted the use of such plastic
in U.S.-made bottles four years ago, citing

The quarter-page ad on the Times opinion page,
the first of a series the group plans to run
in various publications, said Americans were
"paying the price for the billions of plastic
bottles clogging landfills and toxic pollution
from plastic manufacturing."

The network identified itself as an umbrella
organization for some 400 environmental

"Coke discovered that it cost them a little
bit of money to take responsibility for their
waste," group coordinator Bill Sheehan said.
"If Coke can get away with foisting this off
on the consumer by saying, 'It just costs us
too much.' ... Coke's laughing all the way to
the bank."

Coca-Cola arch-rival PepsiCo made the same
promise, Sheehan said, but the campaign
focuses on Coke because "they're the market
gorilla." "Coke needs to provide some
leadership to the industry," he added.

"We're very proud of our environmental
record," Coca-Cola spokesman Bill Hensel said
in response.

Coca-Cola Co. introduced plastic bottles with
recycled content in 1991 but stopped using
recycled material in the bottles after a few
years because it was not economically viable,
Hensel said.

"We did not break a promise," he said. "We
conducted a test, and the results of that test
were not economically sustainable."

Coca-Cola Co. spends more than $2 billion
annually on recycled materials in the United
States and conducts research on the cost-
effective use of recycled plastic in soda
bottles, Hensel said, adding that nearly 60
percent of soft drink containers were

Recycled plastic from soft drink bottles is
used in car bumpers, carpeting and other