CITY COUNCIL MARCH 15, 1999
SUBJECT: ENDORSEMENT OF THE NATIONAL COCA-COLA COMPANY CONSUMER ACTION CAMPAIGN
INITIATED BY: DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION & PUBLIC WORKS
John Jakupcak – Environmental Programs Specialist
STATEMENT ON THE SUBJECT
The City Council will consider a resolution which endorses the National Coca-Cola Company Consumer Action Campaign which is calling upon the Coca-Cola Company to use recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in their bottles.
Adopt Resolution 99-__, "A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF WEST HOLLYWOOD, ENDORSING THE NATIONAL COCA-COLA COMPANY CONSUMER ACTION CAMPAIGN", and direct Environmental Services to notify the Chief Executive Officer of the Coca-Cola Company of the City’s decision."
In 1990 the Coca-Cola Company promised to begin making plastic soft drink bottles sold in the united States with 25 percent recycled plastic. Coke used 25% recycled plastic in selected markets until 1994, when it abandoned recycled plastic entirely, citing high costs. While certain industries incorporate used soda bottle plastic into a host of products, from pillow stuffing and fleece jackets to carpets and auto parts, 64 percent of all used soda bottles become waste or liter. In one year’s time, eight billion plastic Coke bottles that contain over 600 million pounds of virgin plastic are discarded. Moreover, the increasing use of virgin plastic bottles is replacing aluminum and glass containers, which have relatively high recycled content as well as developed recycling infrastructures.
The percentage of plastic soda bottles sold that are collected for recycling (known as the recycling rate) has dropped dramatically for three years in a row, from 50% in 1994 to only 36 percent in 1997. No other recyclable material has dropped for two years in a row. In early 1997 the market price for reclaimed PET plastic reached record lows. As a result, the recycling infrastructure for PET has become unstable.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several recycled content PET bottle technologies that Coke can choose from, including one that uses 100 percent recycled plastic. Coke sells bottles made with recycled plastic in Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Sweden. It also uses refillable plastic bottles in France and Latin America. The refillables are even more environmentally friendly than recycled content bottles.
The cost to use recycled plastic rather than virgin resin is only slightly higher using current FDA approved technology. According to the industry trade publication, Plastics Recycling Update, if Coke were to buy 25% recycled content plastic bottles it would only cost about one-tenth of one cent per 20 ounce bottle (which costs Coke over six cents each).
Currently, no large soft drink beverage company is using recycling plastic in their bottles. The Coca-Cola Company is the overwhelming soft drink industry leader, with 44% market share in 1997. If Coke chooses to act responsibly, Pepsi and other soft drink companies will follow. Coke is a highly profitable company that industry sources say is reaping windfall profits from increasing reliance on plastic packaging in the US. If any company has the resources and the capability to take responsibility for its products and packaging, it is Coke.
Coke’s actions have had a significant role in dismantling an important part of our nation’s recycling infrastructure. The public does its share by diligently separating recyclables and funding programs to collect and prepare recyclables for market. However, the system depends on companies like Coca-Cola to use recovered materials in new packages and to develop collection infrastructure. In order for cities to meet state mandated diversion goals of 50% by 2000, companies must exercise "producer responsibility" and be responsible for the waste generated by their products and packaging.
By endorsing the National Coca-Cola Company Consumer Action Campaign, the City is joining the ranks of 88 environmental organizations and leaders in 26 states and the District of Columbia, including the Sierra Club California Waste Committee, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, the Earth Island Institute, and the California Resource Recovery Association.
OFFICE OF PRIMARY RESPONSIBILTIY