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.
ASSOCIATED WITH PLASTIC COKE BOTTLES
AND PACKAGING WASTE
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.
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 entire industry.
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.
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.
- Holding corporations
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
WHAT SORT OF
GROUPS SUPPORT THE CAMPAIGN?
environmental 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.
community recycling organizations and businesses (87 organizations
and leaders as of January 10, 1999).
IS THE CAMPAIGN
- Not at this
time. The campaign is a consumer action in which the major action
is mailing plastic soda bottles.
HAVE TO BUY COKES?
- No. People
can scavenge empty plastic Coke bottles. Unfortunately, finding
littered bottles is all too easy.
WHY NOT INCLUDE
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