Bill Sheehan (bill_sheehan@mindspring.com)
Wed, 15 Dec 1999 11:20:16 -0500

Atlanta Constitution
December 15, 1995


Ivester once vowed to use recycled goods in packaging,
but that hasn't happened.

Jill Johnson - Special

With all the attention focused on the changing of the
guard at the Coca-Cola Co., one might think the years
spent under the helm of Douglas Ivester have already
been bottled into memories. Nothing could be further
from the truth.

Unless he acts before his official retirement in April,
Ivester will be remembered by thousands of Georgians
as the Coca-Cola CEO who did not keep his pledge. It
has been nine years since Ivester, then senior vice
president, made national news when he proclaimed
Coke's "ongoing commitment to the environment
through minimizing virgin raw materials used in our

He was specifically referring to Coca-Cola's plastics
packaging, which contain virtually no recycled content.
His statement scared Pepsi into throwing together a
news conference with the same announcement less than
a half-hour later. It was a move applauded by
academics, policy-makers and environmentalists alike.
It was a pledge that Ivester has apparently forgotten.

What happened? Coca-Cola has the technology to make
the bottles with recycled plastic as it already does in
other countries such as Australia, Sweden and
Switzerland. Coke reported that test market sales of the
recycled plastic bottle exceeded expectations. There
were even plans to expand the program. Then, only a
few years after it appeared, Coke's supposed
commitment to the environment fizzled.

Coca-Cola has repeatedly claimed the program was
dropped because using recycled plastic is not
economically feasible. All it takes is a little common
sense to know this explanation does not fit coming from
a company that reported $18.8 billion in revenue last
year. According to an industry trade publication, it
would cost Coke less than a penny per 20-ounce plastic
bottle to use 25 percent recycled content.

The bottom line is that recycled plastic is not worth
much these days because the soft drink industry is not
buying it back to make its bottles, opting to use millions
of tons of virgin plastic instead. As a result, these
bottles are not recycled and two out of every three end
up in the trash.

As an industry leader, Coca-Cola is responsible for an
estimated 200 plastic Coke bottles dumped in landfills,
littered or incinerated every second in the United States.
By sticking to his pledge to use recycled content in
Coke bottles, Ivester would reduce a significant amount
of plastic that pollutes our environment.

Financial consultants and business experts appear to
have put the lid on Ivester's tenure with Coke and have
shifted their focus to his successor. Yet, thousands of
Georgians remember Ivester's 1990 pledge and have no
plans to end their fight for plastics recycling. Ivester
still has opportunities to mold his memory into
something more important than profit.

-- Jill Johnson of Atlanta is an organizer with Earth Day
2000, a grass-roots environmental organization.