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Advocates to Rahm Emanuel: No Coke Ads on Residential Recycling Bins
BOSTON - April 26 - Calling it a dangerous precedent and an unprecedented commercial encroachment on private homes, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Chicago residents, and advocates across the country are demanding that Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel end a plan to put Coca-Cola ads on residential recycling bins. This week, the City of Chicago announced that Coca-Cola will “donate” 50,000 bins over the next five years. The bins will come with pictures of Coke and other Coca-Cola products on the covers.
“I am concerned about my children learning to connect environmental awareness and recycling with any commercial product, let alone one that does nothing for their health and wellbeing,” said Chicago parent Andrea Friedmann.
At a press conference on Monday (Earth Day), Mayor Emanuel lauded Coca-Cola’s $2.59 million dollar grant and said the company was helping Chicago become “a greener, more sustainable city.” But advocates point out that the city had already allocated money for the bins. Mayor Emanuel also failed to mention that Coca-Cola was receiving valuable advertising in return for the grant.
“Real generosity doesn't require a quid pro quo,” said CCFC’s Director, Dr. Susan Linn. “Families should be able to take out their household recycling without mandatory exposure to Coke ads.”
Added author Anna Lappé, of the Small Planet Institute and director of the Real Food Media Project, “No one will deny that the city—all cities—need revenue to support important programs like recycling, but there are many other ways to generate it than enlisting your residents to become advertisers.”
Michele Simon, President of Eat, Drink, Politics, noted the donation was more about public relations for a beleaguered industry than sustainability. “With the nation waking up to the health hazards of soda consumption, Coca-Cola is desperately trying to curry favor with local politicians,” said Simon. “This move is not philanthropy, it's self-serving PR and Chicago residents should not put up with it.”
Added lifelong Chicago resident LaDonna Redmond, Founder and National Organizer of the Campaign for Food Justice Now, “The social capital created by working to save the planet through recycling is not for sale. Our good will should not be reduced to marketing soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages.”
The Chicago partnership with Coke escalates an already pernicious problem. Susan Collins, President of the Container Recycling Institute, noted that the Chicago plan continues a trend in which “donated” recycling containers are a Trojan horse for beverage advertising: “For nearly a decade, municipalities and school districts have been accepting donated containers, and many haven’t realized in advance that the containers would be covered with advertising. These communities are unwittingly giving away free advertising space, and in the case of schools, they are placing advertising in spaces that may not normally allow advertising.”
CCFC's online petition urging Mayor Emanuel to keep recycling bins commercial-free can be found at http://org.salsalabs.com/o/621/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=13272