Environmentalists urge support for Coke recycling proposal
ATLANTA - A U.S. environmental group and some Coca-Cola Co. investors on Monday urged the soft drink giants shareholders to vote for a resolution that would force Coke to adopt higher targets for recycling of cans and plastic bottles in the United States.
The GrassRoots Recycling Network said shareholders at the companys annual meeting should support a resolution that would force the beverage giant by 2005 to recycle 80 percent of its bottles and cans in the United States and produce bottles with an average of 25 percent recycling plastic.
The non-profit Athens, Ga.-based environmental group said more than 37,000 empty Coke soft drink bottles and cans were thrown away every minute in the nation. Coca-Cola, the worlds No. 1 soft drink company, is scheduled to hold its annual meeting on April 18 in Wilmington, Delaware.
"We want Coke shareholders to be aware of the rapid increase in Coke bottle and can waste and the liability that represents to the companys image before voting on the recycling resolution," said Bill Sheehan, national network coordinator for the GrassRoots Recycling Network.
The group placed an ad in a regional edition of the Wall Street Journal newspaper on Monday to bolster support for a strategy that it said would make Coca-Cola an industry leader in recycling.
Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, however, opposes the resolution.
"We do plan to increase our use of recycled plastic, but the timeframe and goals set forth in this shareowner proposal would displace significant levels of material currently being used by other industries," Coca-Cola said in its proxy statement.
A Coca-Cola spokesman reaffirmed on Monday that the proposal was well-intentioned but not in the best interest of the companys business.
In separate news, Coca-Cola, which has tentatively settled one racial discrimination lawsuit and is fighting another, announced that it had named Johnnie Booker as director of supplier diversity for its North American operations.
The company said Booker, whom it described as a "recognized expert in the field of diversity and affirmative action, would help develop plans to meet the companys spending goals for U.S.-based minority and female-owned suppliers.
Shares of Coca-Cola gained 69 cents to close at $45.85 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Story by Paul Simao
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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