[GRRN] EcoIQ Magazine Coke article

Bill Sheehan (zerowaste@grrn.org)
Thu, 7 Oct 1999 02:48:33 -0400

From: dchurch <ecoiq@ecoiq.com>
To: <zerowaste@grrn.org>
Sent: Wednesday, October 06, 1999 9:17 AM
Subject: Your Article Published

Dear GRRN,

Your article on Coke's Broken Promises has been published in
the most recent issue of EcoIQ Magazine. Your article is on
the page

We'd of course appreciate a reciprocal link from your site.
The Magazine might be appropriate, as might be the EcoIQ
Solid Waste and Recycling site located at
(<http://www.ecoiq.com/magazine> always takes you to the
most current issue),

Keep up the good work. I'd love to run a story about Coke's
concessions soon.

Dennis Church

EcoIQ Magazine is a quarterly online journal published for
everyone interested in making decisions that are both
economically and ecologically intelligent. It focuses on the
efforts around the nation and around the world to build more
sustainable communities. It covers water, energy, recycling,
transportation, land use, pollution prevention and control,
building, landscaping, and conserving the built environment.
Fall 1999 Issue.

EcoIQ Magazine, Fall 1999 Issue.


By the GrassRoots Recycling Network

Coca-Cola's Chairman and CEO M. Douglas Ivester is
responsible for wasting billions of plastic Coke bottles
every year, according to a nonprofit group in the first of a
series of paid advertisements appearing 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, California.

The advertising campaign, combined with Citizen Alerts
sent to over 300,000 Working Assets long distance
customers in their 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 impact."

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 -
in other countries," Dr. Sheehan said.

"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

"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, 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 problem.

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

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 today."

"We are gaining support among public officials, recycling
leaders, environmentalists, consumers, and Coca-Cola
shareholders for our campaign - with 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

Copyright 1999 EcoIQ