Endorses Consumer Action Against Coca Cola |
Targets Non-Recycled Plastic Bottles
Alameda County Source Reduction and Recycling Board has endorsed
the consumer action against Coca-Cola put forward by the Georgia-based
GrassRoots Recycling Network. The Board has joined with citizen
advocacy groups and environmental organizations throughout the country
including the Sierra Club California Waste Committee, the Institute
for Local Self-Reliance, the Earth Island Institute, and the California
Resource Recovery Association to urge Coke to utilize recycled content
materials in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) soda bottles.
goal of the consumer action campaign is to reverse the alarming
decline in the recycling rate for plastic bottles - which are replacing
recyclable glass and aluminum containers at a rapid rate.
fact sheet on the Coca-Cola campaign, prepared by the GrassRoots
Recycling Network is attached, along with a copy of the resolution
adopted by the Recycling Board.
Recycling Board was created by the voters of Alameda County in 1990
and operates as a specialized arm of the Alameda County Waste Management
Authority. It is funded through a $6 per ton landfill disposal fee
at the Altamont and Vasco Road landfills. Board members are composed
of elected public officials, selected by the Waste Management Authority,
and professional experts in specified areas of waste reduction,
selected by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.
more information about the Coca-Cola consumer action, interested
parties may contact Bill Sheehan at (706) 613-7121, or visit the
GrassRoots Recycling Network website at www.grrn.org. Further information
is also available through the Recycling Board website at www.stopwaste.org.
COKE CAMPAIGN OVERVIEW POLICY ISSUES
The key policy for groups supporting the campaign
is holding consumer product manufacturers responsible for product
and packaging waste, as well as the often more important environmental,
social and economic costs of extracting natural resources and processing
them. In the case of Coca-Cola, the campaign is a protest of the
wasteful corporate push to use non-recycled plastic bottles.
Targeting Coca-Cola focuses public and governmental
attention on the need for voluntary or mandatory producer responsibility.
Coca-Cola promised voluntary action in 1990 in the face of probable
state and federal mandates. When the threat appeared to recede Coke
quietly abandoned its program. By exposing corporate backsliding
on environmental commitments by a consumer product industry giant,
the campaign is sending a message to the industry as a whole.
WITH PLASTIC COKE BOTTLES
1. RECYCLING AND PACKAGING WASTE
Coca-Cola is abandoning
the decades old practice of packaging its soft drinks in recycled
content containers (aluminum cans and glass bottles) in favor of
non-recycled plastic. The impact of Coke's action is undermining
a large part of our nation's recycling infrastructure.
Plastic waste is increasing
ten times faster than recycling of plastic soda bottles. Coke used
600 million pounds of PET plastic in 1997 to make soda bottles sold
in the United States, which is more than the entire amount of PET
soda bottles recycled that year.
Recycling rates for
PET soda bottles have dropped 3 years in a row, from a peak of 50
percent to only 36 percent in 1997. Coke is the industry leader
with 45 percent market share. So its packaging choices affect the
2. HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS
The most serious health
and environmental impacts associated with packaging choices, and
Coke's plastic soda bottle in particular, stem from extraction of
non-renewable resources (oil and gas for the plastics industry),
energy consumption in manufacturing (production of virgin PET plastic
is highly energy intensive), and in the refining of raw materials
and industrial processes used to produce plastics (production of
PET for soda bottles and associated materials generate toxic chemicals
posing a risk to worker safety and public health). Recycled PET
reduces all of the associated health and environmental impacts compared
to production of PET from raw materials.
3. CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY
Coca-Cola is a highly
visible example of an increasing number of multinational corporations
that have broken environmental commitments. If one of the most admired
corporations in America can drop a commitment on an issue of bedrock
consensus (recycling) without penalty, that gives a green light
for other corporations to do follow suit.
accountable for wasteful products and packaging, and encouraging
or requiring redesign of products to eliminate or reduce waste,
is an important action to reverse the exploitation of natural resources
and attendant pollution that is ruining the forests and wild habitats
that we all value.
The campaign links
the most popular environmental symbol -- recycling -- with fundamental
solutions (rather than end-of-the-pipe fixes) to basic environmental
WHAT SORT OF GROUPS SUPPORT THE CAMPAIGN?
and consumer organizations, including Earth Island Institute, Friends
of the Earth, Greenpeace Toxics Campaign, Coop America, and Clean
Water Action chapters.
Student groups, including
PIRGs, SEAC chapters.
recycling organizations and businesses (87 organizations and leaders
as of January 10, 1999).
IS THE CAMPAIGN A BOYCOTT?
Not at this time. The
campaign is a consumer action in which the major action is mailing
plastic soda bottles.
DO PARTICIPANTS HAVE TO BUY COKES?
No. People can scavenge
empty plastic Coke bottles. Unfortunately, finding littered bottles
is all too easy.
WHY NOT INCLUDE
Coca-Cola is the market
giant: Globally, Coke has 50 percent of the world soft drink market
compared to Pepsi's 20 percent.
What Coke does, Pepsi
will follow. In 1990, Coke and Pepsi's announcements of plans to
start using recycled plastic followed each other within 20 minutes.
Prepared by the GrassRoots