Coke Cans Recycling

Coke Cans Recycling

It’s near impossible to have missed Coke’s ads featuring adorable and majestic polar bears, touting the company’s greener side. In 2011 the company pledged $2 million (over 5 years) to the WWF for Arctic research and conservation efforts and in 2012, directed an additional $1 million to polar bear conservation.

Now a few ads and some sizeable donations haven’t fooled me into believing Coke is good for the health of our planet (nor our bodies for that matter). However, it at least seemed a step in the right direction.

Despite these attempts though, Coke isn’t looking so shinny and green in the land down under right now.

The Northern Territory of Australia launched a recycling program last year. Under the container deposit legislation that was implemented, customers now pay a 10 cent deposit on bottles, which can be recuperated when the empty bottle is returned for recycling. It’s nothing revolutionary and similar programs exist elsewhere (including in South Australia), but Coke wants nothing to do with it.

According to Coke, along with Schweppes Australia and Lion, its allies in the legal action, the deposit is akin to a new tax that would depress sales. The legal action is being addressed in the Federal Court in Sydney this week.

Coke’s position is a hard one to swallow. The legislation received 90 percent support in the Territory, and since the program launched last January, 35.5 million containers were recycled through the program. The government has no intention of backing down.

“This government is committed to fighting this important challenge,” according to Terry Mills, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory. “This government is committed to fighting this important challenge. The most senior lawyer in the government, the solicitor general, and his team have been briefed to pull no punches in meeting this legal challenge.”

Since the program launched last year, recycling rates have doubled. Based on the results of the decade old program in South Australia, recycling rates of 80 percent can be expected within a couple of years according to Ian Kiernan, founder of Clean Up Australia.

Public support for the program has been so high that the government is screening the proceedings taking place in Sydney at the supreme court in the Northern Territory so people can come and watch. Writing this from Canada I am truly impressed – it’s not only hard to picture our government telling the largest beverage company in the world to stick it, let alone to televise the proceedings for all to see.

If you want to contribute to the discussion, and tell Coke that this lawsuit is utterly ridiculous, sign the Sum of Us’ petition on the matter.

March 4, 2013