Meeting Date:
April 17, 2001

Action Agenda
Item No.

SUBJECT: Endorsement of Letter to Coca Cola Company urging more recycling of their containers

Solid Waste Management


  • Letter from GrassRoots Recycling Network Describing the Campaign.
  • Draft letter to Coca Cola explaining the campaign to increase use of recycled content in Coke product bottles and increase the amount of Coke product cans and bottles recycled.
  • Resolution endorsing the GrassRoots Recycling network's letter to Coke and PepsiCo


    Blair Pollock Solid Waste Programs Manager 968-2800x161

    Hillsborough 732-8181
    Chapel Hill 968-4501
    Durham 688-7331
    Mebane 336-227-2031

    PURPOSE: The purpose of the resolution is to endorse the campaign by the GrassRoots Recycling Network to increase container recycling by Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola. The resolution would endorse the attached letters that are being presented at the Coke and Pepsi Board meetings occurring on April 18 and May 2 respectively.

    BACKGROUND: The markets for plastic PET (polyethylene terephthalate), which we see
    predominantly in soft drink bottles, have been flat to declining in the past four years. With the current economic downturn, the markets are likely to soften still further. At the same time, PET bottles are increasing their market share of all containers at the expense of aluminum and glass. Further, more bottles are constantly being consumed outside the home. These factors combine to lower recycling rates and decrease any revenues that Orange County may receive from recycling.

    If the major users of PET plastic bottles increased their recycled content, market prices for PET scrap would be strengthened through increased demand for this plastic. If these companies also invested more in overall improvements to the recycling rate, which is falling for both cans and plastic bottles, then they would be acting responsibly in the communities in which they sell their products. Now their contributions to improving recycling are small.

    FINANCIAL IMPACT: Adoption of the resolution has no direct financial impact on Orange County. If the bottlers followed through, there would be a positive impact on the price of PET, but also an increase in bottle volume at our drop off and curbside programs.

    RECOMMENDATION(S): The Manager recommends that the Board adopt the attached resolution endorsing the letter from the Grassroots Recycling Network urging both Coke and Pepsi to increase their recycling commitments.


    Resolution Endorsing the attached letter to Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola urging them to increase recycled content and the rate of recycling of their cans and bottles.

    Whereas: Orange County has a commitment to achieving a waste reduction rate of 61% per capita by 2006, and

    Whereas: recycling as means of waste reduction can be achieved only when there are sound markets for the materials collected for diversion, and

    Whereas: industry has a significant role to play in determining the demands for use of the recyclable materials, and

    Whereas: industry also shapes the demand for product and the types of containers it is packaged in,

    Now be it therefore resolved, that the Board of Orange County Commissioners endorses the attached letters urging Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola to increase the recycled content of their plastic containers to 25% post consumer waste and increase the rate of container recycling to 80%.


    RECEIVED VIA EMAIL on April 1, 2001:

    Orange County Solid Waste Management Dept.

    I want to update you on exciting progress in the GrassRoots Recycling Network's campaign to get Coca-Cola to take responsibility for its beverage container waste. I also want to invite your organization or business to sign onto new letters to both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.

    I am writing to you because your organization has supported the Coke campaign in the past - either as an endorser of the Coke Take It Back campaign in 1999, as a co-signer of the letter to Coke in April 2000, or as a financial supporter of GRRN.

    First the update: We think major positive developments are possible shortly - if we keep the pressure on. With support from numerous local, regional and national organizations (like on college campuses) over four years, the Coke campaign got the attention of businesses and investors:

    n Recycling businesses have formed an alliance with GRRN and other environmental groups to double the national recycling rate for beverage containers (see Several socially responsible investors filed shareholder resolutions with both Coke and Pepsi to get those companies to commit to achieving an 80% recycling rate for all containers and 25% recycled plastic in bottles within 5 years (
    -- On April 2nd we are running an ad in the Wall Street Journal asking Coke shareholders to vote for the Coke recycling resolution (

    Now to the sign-on letter: We are gathering co-signers for letters to be delivered to the Coke annual meeting in Delaware on April 18th, and to the Pepsi annual meeting in Dallas on May 2nd. We'd like to get a broad spectrum of interested organizations (national, state, and community), businesses and government officials to sign on. We'd also like to get individual shareholders to sign, but that isn't necessary - please forward this if you know someone.

    I have included the Coke letter below; the Pepsi letter is similar (to save electrons I have not included it here, but you can view both letters at

    ACTION: If your organization or business will sign on one or both letters, please email me back with:

    Organization name:
    Contact person's name:
    Co-sign Coke letter?
    Co-sign Pepsi letter?

    Please forward this to friends in other organizations concerned about corporate responsibility for waste. (Individuals can participate by writing Coke and Pepsi CEOs at .

    Thanks for your support and hard work. If the owner of the world's best know name brand is made to take responsibility for its waste, imagine the message that will send to other corporations!

    Best regards,

    Bill Sheehan, Ph.D. Network Coordinator
    GrassRoots Recycling Network

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