February 27, 2002

Bill Sheehan (GRRN)

Rebecca O'Malley (
213.251.3690 x302
Consumers And Students Around The U.S. Celebrate A Recycling Victory And Tell Pepsi To "Take It Back!" Now

Groups celebrate success in getting Coke to use recycled plastic in its beverage containers and launch new effort to have Pepsi match Coke's progress.

Athens, GA -- Today students and consumers joined activists participating in over 30 events around the United States that celebrate environmentalists' success in getting Coca-Cola to use recycled plastic in their beverage containers and to hold Pepsi to the same standard. Coke is currently using 10 percent recycled plastic in three-quarters of its North American bottles. Last week, Pepsi responded to consumer and shareholder pressure by sending letters to some of its bottlers and shareholders stating that it is aiming to use 10 percent recycled content by 2005.

"This is a good first step," said Bill Sheehan, executive director of Athens-GA based GrassRoots Recycling Network. "We are pleased to see Pepsi finally start to acknowledge their responsibility for packaging waste. But 3 to 4 years to achieve what Coke is already doing is totally inadequate."

GrassRoots Recycling Network and kicked off the "Take It Back" campaign to convince consumers to send their empty plastic bottles back to Pepsi, asking the company to 'close the loop' by using the plastic to make new bottles, rather than allowing the empties to be littered, burned, or landfilled.

"We are pleased with the progress we have seen from Coke on this issue and commend the company for its efforts. Pepsi, however, needs to share responsibility with Coke for addressing this ongoing environmental problem," said Rebecca O'Malley, program advocate for

Consumers will send thousands of empty plastic bottles back to Pepsi over the course of the next few days. Both groups are asking Pepsi to match Coke's progress and begin using 10 percent recycled plastic immediately, and they are urging both beverage giants to set a goal of using 25 percent recycled plastic by 2005.

Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi promised to use 25 percent recycled plastic in their beverage containers in 1990. Coke made a significant investment at the time, but ultimately both companies broke the promise when consumer pressure faded. PepsiCo recently acquired the Gatorade brand, which has been using 25 percent recycled plastic for nine years.

"This is the same company that promised 25 percent recycled content back in 1990 and then proceeded to blow off that commitment," Sheehan said. "We'll believe that the company is serious when we see a public announcement, a plan, and results. Furthermore, given how quickly Coke has been able to move three quarters of their North American bottles to 10 percent recycled content, we don't understand why it should take Pepsi until 2005 to reach the same result."

More than 1.6 million Pepsi soda bottles and cans are thrown away every hour in the United States. In one day, more than 40 million Pepsi soft drink containers become litter or get sent to landfills and incinerators. In 1999, 114 billion soda and beer containers were burned, buried and littered, rather than recycled. Manufacturing these containers solely from virgin material requires more energy, emits more greenhouse gases and creates more needless waste than producing the same items using some recycled content.

By contrast, recycling these beverage containers can yield substantial environmental benefits. Given the vast size of the beverage industry, and the rapidly growing role of the plastic bottle within it, these benefits are significant. The rate of growth in plastic beverage container production is quickly outstripping even that of the aluminum can.


Information on the Grassroots Recycling Network's Beverage Container Campaign is at

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