We’ve had container deposit recycling legislation in South Australia for three decades. The Northern Territory wants to implement a similar scheme, but has hit strong opposition from Coca Cola Amatil (Coke).
Once every month or so, I head to the local recycling depot where I receive 10c for each soda can, bottle (plastic and glass) and even some milk cartons I return.
It’s nice to get the cash and it’s great to know those items will be recycled rather than head to landfill. Not only does it mean less natural resources need to be ripped from the earth to create new cans and bottles, but recycling energy savings on glass, aluminum and plastic are substantial – around 95% on aluminum.
Cans and bottles left laying around in South Australia don’t usually stay that way for long – there are quite a few folks for whom these containers provide part of their income. They win and the environment wins.
The difference between South Australia and other states in recycling is significant when it comes to glass and plastic (PET) bottles. According to Boomerang Alliance, recycling rates for plastic beverage containers nationally is around 27% and glass at 38%, while South Australia achieves PET beverage container· recycling rates of 74% and glass 84%.
Australia’s Northern Territory wants to kick off a similar scheme to South Australia’s early next year, called Cash For Containers, but grass-roots activist group GetUp!, says Coke has lobbied state governments heavily against container deposit legislation.
This isn’t one of those “conspiracy” accusations – the Northern Territory Chief Minister has confirmed the company’s activities, stating in a letter that “Coca Cola and its beverage industry allies, ran a well funded public misinformation campaign against Cash for Containers”.
“We have seen political intimidation…And now we face the threat of legal challenge”, says Minister Henderson.
He says that Territorians won’t give up on Cash For Containers without a fight.
According to GetUp, Coca Cola’s beef is they believe the 10c increase in price will lead to a reduction in sales – even though the consumer receives 100% of the deposit back when they recycle. From what I understand, there has been no real evidence of container deposits having a negative effect on sales.
Coke also reportedly state re-tooling for re-labeling would take a couple of years – however, the company seems to have easily created personalised labels for one of their current campaigns – hence GetUp’s action being called “Not In My Name“.
GetUp says when another state, Western Australia, wanted to implement a scheme in 2005, the government balked after “reported threats of Coke running a ‘marginal seat’ campaign” against the Labor government, which was in power at the time.
I just do not get this – it’s a popular scheme, it’s good for the environment and Coca Cola Amatil (Coke) are not doing themselves any PR favors by resisting it.
On Coke’s Australian sustainability web site, the recycling section states the following:
“We recognise however, that our planet has scarce resources and we are working to first minimise the packaging we use and then look to find ways to recover and reuse as much as possible. “
“Give it back. Recycle’ is Coca-Cola’s new, long-term recycling platform for Australia which will roll out throughout 2010 as part of Live Positively. Our goal is to find ways to inspire people to recycle more by making it fun as well as simple.”
10c refundable deposit is great inspiration. Wake up Coca-Cola, live up to your corp-spin, back off and actively support what the Northern Territory and other states are trying to achieve with container deposits.
If what Coke is reportedly doing angers you; learn more about what you can do on the GetUp! web site and at Boomerang Alliance.