Beverage Shareholders Campaign


Coke Shareholder Action
for April 18, 2001
Annual Meeting
Sign-on to a letter to the Coca-cola Board of Directors to support the share owner resolution asking for 25% recycled plastic in bottles and 80% recycling rate for all beverage bottles.

Read the Letter: (Click here to view endorsers.)

Dear Coca-Cola Board Member:

On 18 April, The Coca-Cola Company will be holding its annual shareholders meeting and considering a proposal urging the adoption of recycling initiatives.

We respectfully ask that you to give this proposal your full consideration, for it would truly benefit the company.

Exciting new things are happening at Coca Cola, and we hope that one of these will be to bring the company into a position of undisputed environmental leadership within the beverage industry in a very visible way.

Coca-Cola's recent decision to demonstrate environmental responsibility in the areas of vending machine refrigerants and effluent discharges from bottling facilities is an encouraging signal that the company is becoming more aware of how serious these issues are.

But it seems to us inconsistent to undertake such helpful measures while still strongly opposing other environmentally beneficial policies, such as deposit systems and closed loop recycling.

As proud Coke stock holders and concerned citizens, we think it is of the utmost importance that Coke be a leader specifically in promoting recycling and sustainable packaging practices.

We can think of nothing that would do more to capture the public's imagination, appeal to young people, and give Coke an advantage over competitors than an environmental initiative that was sincere, effective, and powerful.

The environmental community would like for Coca-Cola to make a firm commitment to establish a system that achieves an 80% collection rate over five years, an easily achievable goal that is already being met in the ten U.S. states with container deposits.

As you may know, collection rates for both plastic and aluminum have been declining for six years, to the point where the collection rate for all containers (plastic, aluminum and glass) is less than 35% in non-bottle bill states, and a shocking 10% for plastic beverage containers in non-bottle bill states.

Coke can also easily introduce on a nationwide basis a minimum 25% recycled plastic in PET beverage bottles, the level currently being achieved in Chairman Douglas Daft's native Australia.

If both of these initiatives are undertaken together, existing industries can utilize as feedstocks all collected plastic, glass and aluminum without market disruption. The impact on employment, tax revenues and wealth creation could be substantial and significant. And Coke could rightly take credit for this monumental achievement.

We hope that Coca-Cola will make a public commitment to achieve 25% plastic recycled content and 80% collection for all containers in five years. But we also need to hear details of how goals will be achieved, resources committed, and progress benchmarked. Eleven years ago, Coke made certain promises that were never fulfilled, and this time specific timeframes should be included.

It is also important that Coke reverse its refusal to address the issue of aluminum can waste, which has an even greater negative impact than plastic. Indeed, each can has an energy content of a third of a can of gasoline; industry-wide, 45 billion of these cans were landfilled in the United States last year!

We understand many stakeholders are involved in both increasing collection and recycled plastic content. But as the leader in this industry, Coke has an opportunity to use its enormous influence to shape a system that can achieve these goals.

An additional concern we have is Coke's continued support of and active involvement in organizations fighting such initiatives, including Keep America Beautiful, National Soft Drink Association, and the company's own Civic Action Network. Each of these groups is widely (and we believe justifiably) seen as having an anti-environmental mission, and are working to oppose laws and regulations to protect the environment, especially bottle deposits.

We are also distressed to see inaccurate information on these issues being repeated in Coke's latest proxy statement opposing the shareholder proposal. We believe it will be counter-productive for Coke to undertake a less than fully effective recycling effort, since much of its impact would be negated by criticism from the environmental community, which should be enthusiastic partners and cheerleaders in this undertaking.
Yes, recycling works. It's the Real Thing!

To undertake these initiatives would be a bold move. But Coke did not become one of the world's most highly respected companies, with the world's most widely recognized brand name, by being timid.

As the legendary Roberto Goizueta observed in his next-to-last Annual Report, quoting the German poet Goethe, "…Boldness has a genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."

We frequently read that the investment community is looking to Coke's current management for bold action. Some believe PepsiCo has seized the initiative on fronts such as 'New Age' and healthy beverages that appeal to young people. A rapid and strong commitment by Coke to these pro-environmental policies could create a huge impact, and demonstrate that the company has the boldness and foresight to grasp the baton of leadership and carry it to victory.

As the GrassRoots Recycling Network observes, "The eyes of the world are on Coke, and many businesses will follow its lead."

We hope you will consider the recycling proposal and direct Coca Cola management to come up with exciting, innovative, conscientious policies that will benefit our company, our community, and our habitat on which we are all ultimately dependent.

Sincerely yours,

Coca-Cola Shareholders
Lewis Regenstein, Atlanta GA - William C. Wardlaw III, Atlanta, GA

Concerned Organizations
Bill Sheehan, Network Coordinator, GrassRoots Recycling Network
Bob Woodall, Executive Director, Waste Not Georgia
Pat Franklin, Executive Director, Container Recycling Institute

(Click here view endorsers now.)

  Contact Us © Zero Waste USA ©
Archive maintained by Laughter On Water