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The "chasing arrows" recycling symbol on plastic containers invite consumers to "please recycle." GRRN decided it was time someone asked Coca-Cola, "Recycle them WHERE?"
In March 1997, GRRN wrote Coca-Cola, asking for four voluntary actions:
When Coca-Cola failed to respond to GRRN's requests GRRN members staged a rally outside Coca-Cola's global headquarters in Atlanta.
"Coca-Cola is a megacorporation," says GRRN member Eric Lombardi.
GRRN's efforts have not gone unnoticed by the plastics industry.
In a report called "Welfare for Waste" GRRN has documented 15 tax-and-spend subsidies that directly benefit three industries--forestry, petroleum and mining--whose products directly compete with recycled material.
GRRN blames backsliding by Coca-Cola for the plummeting rate of recycling plastic PET (polyethylene terephthalate) soda bottles--from 53 percent in 1994 to 35.6 percent in 1998.
Closing the loop is something that GRRN, founded in 1996 as a North American network of recycling activists, is determined to see happen.
GRRN's Coke campaign has most recently added the momentum of a "dirty job boycott" from students at 150 universities, and a 20-foot inflatable Coke bottle that has made appearances across the country at events from the Washington, D.C.
According to GRRN, Coke could produce a 20-ounce bottle made with 25 percent recycled plastic for only about a 10th of a cent more than virgin plastic, using recycling techniques already approved by the U.S.
As the battle with Coke continues, GRRN has tackled a few other recycling offenders: Miller Brewing, for instance, which began test-marketing an amber-colored plastic beer bottle with aluminum caps and metalized labels in 1998.
Corporate and Congressional offenders alike are still but building blocks to GRRN's larger goal: to eliminate waste at the source, rather than manage its outcome.
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