OCTOBER 28, 1998
Contacts: Bill Sheehan (706) 613-7121 or
Lance King (703) 241-4927


43 Groups Endorse "Take It Back!" Campaign --
Protests Planned In 6 Cities

ATHENS, GEORGIA, USA - Cola-Cola's growing reliance on plastic soda bottles, without using any recycled plastic, wastes resources and pollutes the environment, say leaders of a national consumer campaign targeting Coke.

"Some things don't go better with Coke, things like plastics recycling. Coke is leading the soft drink industry switch to single use plastic soda bottles and the results for recycling beverage containers are disastrous," GrassRoots Recycling Network spokesman Bill Sheehan said today. Sheehan is the national network coordinator.

"Our campaign is about manufacturer responsibility. Recycling works only if manufacturers like Coke use the materials consumers recycle. Coke broke its promise to use recycled plastic in soda bottles sold in the United States, while increasing the use of plastics for packaging soft drinks. This is a major factor in declining plastic soda bottle recycling rates over the last three years - from an industry high of 50 percent in 1994 to only 36 percent in 1997," Sheehan continued.

" As a protest, the GrassRoots Recycling Network launched the "Coke - Take It Back!" campaign last month calling on consumers to mail back empty plastic Coke bottles to Coca-Cola Company Chairman Douglas Investor with the simple message "take it back and use it again."

"We are finding a broad base of support for our campaign. A total of 43 groups support the Coke protest, including national environmental groups like Friends of the Earth, Earth Island Institute, Greenpeace US Toxics Campaign, and the Georgia and Virginia Chapters of Sierra Club," Lance King, campaign consultant to the GrassRoots Recycling Network, said. A complete list of endorsements is attached.

" Protests are being planned in 6 cities on November 10, including:
  • Boulder, Colorado
  • Athens, Georgia
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Los Angeles, California.

"Plastic Coke bottles generated almost 400 million pounds of plastic waste in 1997. Cost-effective technology exists for making new plastic soda bottles from recycled plastic, but Coke refuses to keep its 1990 promise to use recycled plastic in the United States," Rick Best, policy director of the Sacramento-based Californians Against Waste and chair of the GrassRoots Recycling Network said.

" Coca-Cola promised in 1990 to make new plastic soft drink bottles sold in the United States with 25 percent recycled material. The company broke its promise in early 1994 when abandoned the recycling process and subsequently stopped using any recycled plastic in bottles sold in this country.

" Rick Best, chair of the GRRN Steering Committee, said: "The technology for making plastic bottles with recycled content is well established. The Food and Drug Administration approved technology for making 100 percent recycled PET bottles in 1994. Coke uses a different technique with a layer of recycled plastic in New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland and Sweden. In France, Coke uses a refillable PET plastic bottle."

"One reason Coke uses recycled PET in other countries is because of government mandates. In the United States, Coke and other companies have backed away from commitments to use recycled materials. The Take It Back Campaign is a way to bring consumer pressure on Coke to do the right thing voluntarily, rather than waiting for government mandates," Best said.

" According to Plastics Recycling Update, converting to 25 percent recycled PET plastic in a 20 ounce plastic bottle would only add 1/10 of one penny more per container (which costs Coke more than 6 cents).

" The GrassRoots Recycling Network (GRRN) is a national nonprofit organization advocating public and private policies to achieve the goal of zero waste, while creating sustainable jobs that conserve human and natural resources. Headquartered in Athens, Georgia, the organization was established in 1996.


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