Waste Not Georgia
| NEWS RELEASE
April 2, 2001
| Contact: Lance King
(703) 536-7282 or (706) 613-7121
Coke Shareholders and
Environmental Groups Urge Support for Recycling in Wall Street Journal
ATLANTA, GA (April
2, 2001) -- A Georgia environmental group and long-time Coca-Cola
investors appealed to Coke shareholders to vote for a recycling resolution
by placing an advertisement in today's Wall Street Journal (South Atlantic
edition). The GrassRoots Recycling Network, a national nonprofit environmental
organization based in Athens, Georgia, placed the ad.
"We want Coke shareholders to be aware of the rapid increase in Coke
bottle and can waste -- and the liability that represents to the company's
image -- before voting on the recycling resolution. In just one day, more
than 54 million empty Coke beverage containers become litter or get sent
to landfills and incinerators," said Bill Sheehan, national network
coordinator of the GrassRoots Recycling Network.
The advertisement headline is "A Moment of Refreshment, An Eternity
A group of institutional and individual investors are calling, in Proxy
Proposal 5, for Coca-Cola to adopt a recycling strategy to reverse rapidly
increasing beverage container waste. Coke's management, which is holding
its annual meeting in Delaware on April 18, opposes the resolution.
"As a proud Coke stockholder for many years, I think it is important
that Coke be the industry leader in promoting recycling. This would provide
huge benefits to our society, our environment, and our company. If we
lead, many companies will follow. Let's show the world that recycling
works, it's the real thing," said Atlanta native Lewis Regenstein.
Mr. Regenstein co-sponsored the Coke recycling resolution.
"Most people are shocked to learn that waste from beverage containers
increased more than 50 percent from 1992 to 1999 in the United States,"
said Pat Franklin, executive director of the Container Recycling Institute.
Based in Arlington, Virginia, CRI studies trends in beverage packaging
and advocates policies to eliminate waste through recycling and reuse.
"Beverage container recycling rates are dropping in the United States
in large part because of the switch to plastic bottles. These single-serving
beverages are frequently consumed away from home and away from convenient
recycling locations," Franklin said.
Coca-Cola shareholder William C. Wardlaw, III, of Atlanta, co-signed the
letter to fellow shareholders printed in the Wall Street Journal ad. Appealing
for support, the opening paragraph of the letter says:
"Our company is the soft drink industry leader. We propose to make
Coke the recycling leader as well!"
Proxy Proposal 5 was submitted to Coca-Cola management by a group of institutional
and individual investors, including: As You Sow Foundation (San Francisco),
Walden Asset Management (Boston), Domini Social Investment (New York),
Trillium Asset Management (Boston), and Atlanta shareholder Lewis Regenstein.
The resolution calls on The Coca-Cola Board of Directors to come up with
a plan to reach two recycling goals by January 1, 2005:
- Achieve an 80 percent
national recycling rate for bottles and cans; and,
- Make plastic bottles
with an average of 25 percent recycling plastic.
"The GrassRoots Recycling
Network launched the Coke campaign in Atlanta 4 years ago this week in
Atlanta, because of growing concern about the plastic bottle waste problem.
It's a matter of corporate responsibility. Coke shareholders supporting
the recycling proposal believe that protecting the environment and making
a profit go hand in hand," said Lance King, a spokesman for the environmental
groups supporting Proxy Proposal 5.
One of the institutional investment funds sponsoring the recycling resolution
is sending a letter to thousands of shareholders who own an estimated
70 percent of Coke stock.
"We are encouraged that senior management at The Cola-Cola Company
is reportedly considering ways to address the shareholder's environmental
concerns. To date, Coke has not developed a plan with specific means to
reverse the decline in recycling rates or use a significant amount of
recycled plastic to make new bottles," King said.
"In Georgia, more than 80 percent of plastic Coke bottles wind up
as litter or in our landfills. It's a shame, because Georgia's largest
industry, the carpet industry, could use those bottles to make polyester
carpet and create new jobs," said Bob Woodall, executive director
of Atlanta-based Waste Not Georgia.
"Coke needs to take responsibility, by setting recycling goals and
creating financial incentives designed to increase recycling. The shareholder
resolution focuses on realistic goals, recycling rates achieved in 10
states across America and in other nations," Woodall said.
The Wall Street Journal ad, background materials for reporters, and information
for shareholders who want to vote for Proxy Proposal 5 are posted on GRRN's
Web site at