Investor groups announced today they have filed shareholder resolutions with the companies on recycling concerns. The groups filing include As You Sow Foundation (San Francisco), Walden Asset Management (Boston), Domini Social Investments, Trillium Asset Management, and Atlanta shareholder Lewis Regenstein. The resolutions call upon Coke and Pepsi to set specific recycling goals to use 25 percent recycled plastic in their bottles and develop plans to increase overall beverage container recycling rates to 80 percent in the United States.
"These shareholder groups clearly believe that making a profit and protecting the environment are compatible goals. Shareholder resolutions pressing Coke and Pepsi to develop a comprehensive recycling strategy are an important development in the battle against beverage container waste," said Bill Sheehan, network coordinator for the GrassRoots Recycling Network.
In the past 10 years, more than 75 billion Coke and Pepsi plastic bottles have been landfilled, incinerated or littered on our nations highways and beaches, according to the Container Recycling Institute and the GrassRoots Recycling Network.
"Making plastic soda bottles from petroleum takes four times more energy than making bottles from recycled plastic and wastes precious barrels of oil. As bottles are wasted, industry churns out more plastics, creating more toxic pollutants in the process," Sheehan said.
"We have worked for several years to build public pressure on beverage industry leader Coca-Cola to take responsibility for the growing plastic bottle waste problem. Shareholder resolutions move us from the street to the boardrooms," Sheehan said.
Based in Athens, Georgia, the GrassRoots Recycling Network is a national network of waste reduction activists and professionals that has mobilized over 200 organizations, businesses and local government leaders since 1997 in its 'Coke Take-It- Back!' campaign.
The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo announced intentions on the same day in December 1990 to use 25 percent recycled plastic in soda bottles sold in the United States. They did this as they were expanding use of plastic for beverage packaging. Both companies abandoned use of recycled plastic to make bottles in the United States by 1994.
As a result of the campaign, Coca-Cola proclaimed last April that it would use 2.5 percent recycled plastic in 2000 ("25 percent in 10 percent of bottles"). Coca-Cola currently uses 25 percent recycled plastic in bottles sold in Australia, the home of Coke CEO Douglas Daft, and in other countries including Sweden, Switzerland and New Zealand.
"Investor groups recognize that refundable deposits on beverage containers work. The 10 states with bottle bills have an average 80 percent beverage container recycling rate, which is 2 to 3 times higher than in states without deposits," said Pat Franklin, executive director of the Container Recycling Institute. "These shareholder resolutions challenge Coke and Pepsi to stop opposing bottle bills or develop an alternative that produces the same results as in deposit states," Franklin said.
Industry data show that only 1 out of 3 plastic soda bottles are being recycled. Plastic bottle waste doubled between 1994 and 1998 as the beverage industry increased reliance on plastics, according to the Container Recycling Institute.
"In Georgia, home of Coca-Cola, we buried, burned or littered over 450 million plastic beverage containers in 1999. Most of these bottles would get recycled if a refundable deposit was required on beverages," Woodall said.
For more information on the Coke campaign launched by the GrassRoots Recycling Network, visit: http://www.grrn.org/coke/index.html . Additional information on beverage container recycling and bottle bills is available at the Container Recycling Institute's website at http://www.bottlebill.org and at Waste Not Georgia's website, http://www.wastenotgeorgia.org