Investors Press Coke, Pepsi on Recycling

Investors Press Coke, Pepsi on Recycling

A group of shareholders announced Wednesday they are pressing The Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. to adopt a comprehensive recycling strategy to address the environmental problems of millions of discarded plastic soda bottles.

Concerned about the growing problem of plastic bottle waste, Walden Asset Management of Boston, the As You Sow Foundation of San Francisco and other shareholders have filed a shareholder resolution with Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, asking them to adopt recycling goals to use 25% recycled content in their soda bottles. The proposal asks the companies to support or institute programs to achieve a recycling rate of 80% for its beverage containers sold in the U.S.

"We decided to take this action because the plastic bottle waste problem is growing rapidly and overall beverage container recycling is dropping," said Conrad MacKerron, director of the Corporate Accountability Program at As You Sow.

"Investors have engaged Coca-Cola management in a substantive dialogue about these problems over the past year but the company would not agree to commit publicly to recycling goals."

Two of every three plastic soda bottles -- about 45 million containers per day -- now become waste or litter. The U.S. recycling rate for plastic soft drink containers declined from 50% in 1994 to 35.7% in 1999. Coke and Pepsi have lobbied against container deposit systems, which require a refundable deposit of five or 10 cents on beverage containers to provide an incentive to recycle.

"In effect, the resolutions ask Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to stop opposing bottle bills or to offer an alternative policy that can achieve recycling rates equivalent to those in bottle bill states," said Ken Scott, research analyst for Walden Asset Management.