Coca Cola to Launch Major Recycling Initiative At London Olympics

Coca Cola has announced plans to collect all clear PET plastic bottles at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and recycle them into 80 million new plastic bottles. Reports say the recycling effort is expected to collect about one-fifth of all consumer waste produced at London 2012 venues.

The initiative is being lauded because it will help the Organizing Committee reach its zero-waste target. And it certainly is promising; Coca Cola will recycle the material at a new joint venture facility with ECO Plastics, scheduled to open in early 2012, that is expected to more than double the current UK production of food-grade recycled PET plastic.

Coca Cola also plans to test out a waste system that it hopes could become a blueprint for major sporting events in the future.

Edie quotes Simon Lewis from WWF, which is supporting the effort from Coke:

The strength of the Coca-Cola brand puts it in a unique position to trigger a significant shift in sustainable behaviour with the potential to leave a legacy of positive environmental change long after the Olympics have left town... I welcome this strategy for supporting the delivering of a sustainable Games. Coca-Cola, in association with WWF, will address the critical challenges involved, and help to set new industry standards that we hope will make a difference in London, across the UK, and around the world.

Green Olympics?
While the recycling program is a significant step, London's self-declared commitment to sustainability and to creating the first green Olympics has been called into question since the announcement of a £7m deal with Dow Chemical.

The Independent reported:

Lord Coe faced tough questions from senior MPs yesterday regarding a lucrative Olympic contract awarded to a controversial American chemicals company that campaigners say will taint London 2012... Dow's contract gives it "exclusive marketing rights" to the main stadium in east London. Its name will be adorned on the "wrap" around the stadium, guaranteeing the company a prominent profile next year.

AP added:

Labour Party legislator Barry Gardiner confirmed Thursday that members of the House of Commons were pressing the London organizing committee, LOCOG, to reverse the deal as a result of concern over the company's response to the victims of the Bhopal leak, which killed an estimated 15,000 people.

Now, criticism of the Dow deal is just for context; it doesn't detract from the waste reduction efforts spearheaded by Coke or by the Olympic committee. It's just relevant information when looking at the larger, honestly-asked question of what sustainability should and does mean.

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