Investment Funds Question Coca-Cola Executives Regarding Plastic Bottle Recycling
BOSTON, MA -- Several 'socially responsible' investment firms recently questioned Coca-Cola about its record on recycling plastic bottles, the nonprofit GrassRoots Recycling Network announced today in a prepared statement.
"We are issuing a statement today concerning investment fund interest in the problems created by Coke's plastic bottle waste in response to media inquiries," GrassRoots Recycling Network spokesman Lance King said.
GRRN Board President Rick Best issued the following written statement Tuesday, October 26, 1999:
"The GrassRoots Recycling Network has received a number of inquiries
from investment funds and individual shareholders concerning The
Coca-cola Company’s plastic bottle waste.
Ken Scott of Walden Asset Management, a socially responsible investment
of United States Trust Company Trust in Boston, wrote to The Coca-Cola
Company on September 8, 1999, seeking clarification of Coke's environmental
record, including their plans to use recycled plastic in their soda
Kinder, Lydenberg & Domini, another socially responsible investment
firm, also sent a letter asking about Coca-Cola's overall recycling
efforts, its current reliance on plastics for beverage containers,
its use of recycled plastics in countries outside the U.S., its
plans for use of recycled plastics within the U.S., and its stance
on bottle deposit legislation and regulations.
Amy Domini, KLD partner and CEO of Domini Social Equity Investment
Fund, made these facts known in a keynote address to the National
Recycling Congress in Cincinnati on September 27. Domini noted that
her fund holds 579,600 shares of Coca-Cola stock in its investment
The interest expressed by her firm and Walden Asset Management became
a part of the agenda for a meeting with Coca-Cola executives on
October 14, 1999. Questions regarding the interest of socially responsible
investment firms in the Coke plastic
bottle waste issue and their meeting with Coca-Cola executives
should be directed to those firms. -more-
The GrassRoots Recycling Network is gratified by the interest
of these leaders in the investment community with regard to increasing
plastic soda bottle waste and Coca-Cola’s responsibility for the
growing plastic waste problem. While the possibility of a shareholder
resolution was mentioned in one news story, it is our understanding
that no definite decision has been made by either of these investment
firms at this time.
However, the GrassRoots Recycling Network plans to step up the
pace of its Coke campaign again, since Coca-Cola Chairman Douglas
Ivester has so far refused to come forward with a plan to reverse
declining plastic soda bottle recycling rates."
Background: Coca-Cola is a leading contributor to a dramatic downturn
in the recycling rate for plastic soda bottles over the past four
years. Industry data confirms that 64 percent of all plastic soda
bottles sold in the United States in 1998 were wasted or littered.
Since coke abandoned use of recycled content plastic bottles in
the United States the plastic bottle recycling rate has plummeted.
Coca-Cola is the industry leader with 45 percent of the domestic
market, so it sets trends in the beverage industry by its packaging
The Coca-Cola Company's actions in recent years are leading the industry in the wrong direction from an environmental and recycling perspective. Specifically, the company abandoned widespread use of recycled content plastic bottles in the United States. Then it introduced the 20-ounce single serving plastic soda bottle made from virgin plastic, a petroleum based, non-renewable resource.
Results of Coke's actions and those of its competitors have been have dramatically undermined plastics recycling in the United States. The GrassRoots Recycling Network launched its Coke-Take It Back! Campaign in September 1998 as a direct action, in which consumers mail back empty plastic bottles to Mr. Ivester to protest the company's waste.
More recently, a CitizenAlert sent out by Working Assets Long Distance of San Francisco CA generated more than 40,000 letters, e-mails and calls to Mr. Ivester. On August 3, GRRN expanded its campaign with a series of paid advertisements placed in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
The GrassRoots Recycling Network is a national nonprofit organization based in Athens, Georgia. More than 100 organizations and leaders have endorsed the Coke Campaign. Local government agencies in 3 states representing more than two dozen jurisdictions have adopted resolutions calling on The Coca-Cola Company to re-introduce plastic soda bottles made with recycled material. For more information on GRRN and the Coke Campaign, visit our web site at: http://www.grrn.org.