One Handed Applause for Coke and the Coca-Cola Foundation

26 Feb

The Coca-Cola Company like to mention at every opportunity how much work they do in drought situations, for the environment, education, even healthy living programs, whatever that may mean to a company whose flagship product is one of the least healthy things that people in every country seem to consume. But they are a lot less likely to mention their part in causing droughts, pushing their products in schools, damaging the environment or blocking measures to protect the environment.

SumOfUs.org are currently running a campaign to persuade Coke to stop blocking a measure that aims to get people to recycle plastic bottles. The proposal is that there is a small deposit on the bottle which will be returned when the empty bottle is sent for recycling. It’s called a ‘container deposit’ program.

In case anyone should doubt that such a scheme would work, many must remember the days when you could collect enough soda bottles to buy a few sweets if you were broke. That still happens in some countries. You won’t find Coke’s glass bottles littering East African countries, though you’ll find plenty of other litter. But Coke is gradually introducing plastic bottles there, and without the deposit, there is no incentive to make sure they are always returned.

Coke has gone as far as suing the Australian government for trying to put together such a scheme. They claim it is a tax on their products and that it affects their sales. If only!

A quick look at one of the Coca-Cola Foundations’ announcements about the millions they have awarded to “invest in the ingenuity of grassroots partners who contribute to the well-being of communities around the world” reveals that over $600k of that went to support ‘community recycling projects’. I guess that didn’t extend to recycling Coke-specific waste.

A lot of Coke’s ‘investment’ in NGOs goes into ‘water stewardship’ projects. But those interested in water stewardship may remember various places where it was the activities of the Coca-Cola company itself that led to severe shortages of water, even drought, in some very poor countries, India being a prominent example. In some of those cases, also, the option of suing the government in question arose.

Big up to Coke for funding laudable activities, but only a one handed clap for being responsible for many of the problems they make such a big issue out of addressing.

If you agree, don’t forget to sign the petition at SumOfUs.org.

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