May 16, 2011
Litter fight 'does not go better with Coke'
KEEP Australia Beautiful is relaunching the successful Do The Right Thing anti-littering campaign with support from corporate sponsors such as Coca-Cola Amatil - earning a rebuke from environmentalists.
The Boomerang Alliance, an association of environmental groups, has accused Keep Australia Beautiful of being ''recaptured'' by big corporations which oppose schemes that pay people to recycle.
Drinks companies, including Coca-Cola Amatil, have resisted calls for national legislation for a 10¢ refund for bottles returned to deposit depots or ''reverse vending machines''. These schemes are in place in the Northern Territory and South Australia, and are used in the US, Canada and parts of Europe.Advertisement: Story continues below
''Keep Australia Beautiful had been trying to improve their ways, but they have been recaptured [by big corporations],'' Jeff Angel, the convener of the Boomerang Alliance, said.
His group believes a national scheme offering refunds for returned containers would be more effective than anti-litter campaigns or kerbside recycling, where materials are often difficult to separate.
Coca-Cola Amatil outlined its position in an email to staff last week from its director of corporate affairs, Alec Wagstaff, after Boomerang Alliance activists handed leaflets to workers. ''The Boomerang Alliance argues CCA is publicly opposed to a container deposit scheme. This is correct,'' the email said
Mr Wagstaff told the Herald that cost-benefit analysis showed container deposit legislation was more expensive than existing schemes and that ''consumers are very price-sensitive''. He said people were misled into thinking they would earn 10¢ for each container returned when really they were just getting back money they had already paid, and that prices would increase to cover the costs. ''Our research shows, when you bring it in, they stop buying,'' he said.
But Mr Angel said that consumers accepted changes when recycling legislation was introduced. ''Once it it comes in… everyone adjusts and no one is financially hurt.''
The chief executive of Keep Australia Beautiful NSW, Peter McLean, defended his organisation for accepting public and private funding. ''Without corporate sponsorship we wouldn't be able to carry out a couple of our programs," he said. "Being a not-for-profit we need to work with corporate partners.''