Coca-Cola to Step Up Recycling, Improve Image


Photo credit: pbo31

Coca-Cola appears to be taking pains to buff up its tarnished image—a controversy continues to brew in India over pesticides and other toxic chemicals found in its soda products. Already facing criticisms of human-rights violations, Coke's bottling operations have also made the company the target of at least two international water-rights campaigns, as the soft-drink giant continues to duke it out with villages in drought-stricken areas such as Kerala, India over potable-water rights. Then there was the matter of Coke requesting the Israeli government to suspend the mandatory deposit and return service on its bottles, leading at least one non-profit to accuse the company of waging a smear campaign to link bottle collection with deviant behavior.

(We pause here to let you catch your breath.)

With negative press looming overhead like its own personal storm cloud, Coke announced on Wednesday that it will open a massive recycling plant in Spartanburg, S.C. next year as part of its long-term goal to recycle or reuse all plastic bottles containing the company's products sold in the United States. The company says it already recaptures 20 percent of the plastic it puts into America's waste stream each year, but it now wants to attain the loftier aim of reusing or recycling 30 percent of its plastic by 2010.The new plant would produce 100 million pounds of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic each year, according to Sandy Douglas, president of Coca-Cola North America. This would be the equivalent of putting out nearly 2 billion 20-ounce bottles, she added.

Another potential feather in its cap: The company calculates that the plant's operations will prevent 100 metric tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere in the next 10 years.

Jeff Seabright, Coca-Cola's vice president for water and environmental stewardship, said he couldn't predict when the company would attain its goal of reusing or recycling 100 percent of its plastic bottles. "We're at the beginning of what is a significant journey," he said, adding that the company will spend $60 million this year on its recycling efforts. ::Washington Post

See also: Coca-Cola is Going Green

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