As FoodProductionDaily reported last week, Coca-Cola is part of The Recycling Partnership, which has granted the city of Columbia, South Carolina, $300k to revamp its residential recycling program.
While the company is proud of its role in the Recycling Partnership, Jeff Meyers, Coca-Cola’s manager of sustainable packaging, told FoodProductionDaily it’s an honor he’d be happy to share.
“We are the lead sponsor of the Partnership, but we’d like that to change,” he said. “We encourage other food and beverage companies, retailers, manufacturers, and anyone else who wants to see recycling increase to join the group.”
Meyers was also quick to point out that although the Recycling Partnership was created during a meeting of the Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC), neither the group nor its projects are region-specific.
“We may have started in the Southeast, but the vision was always national,” Meyers said. “As the process to solicit RFPs (Request for Proposal) continues later this year, we anticipate expanding outside the Southeast.”
“This is an inflection point, and we need like-minded companies to join us,” he added.
Coca-Cola has been pursuing an ambitious sustainability agenda for years, with initiatives in recycling and recovery of both water and packaging materials, as well as its biobased PlantBottle program. However, given the size, complexity, and diversity of the recycling challenges in the US, multiple approaches are needed to make significant progress, Meyers said.
That is one of several reasons Coca-Cola is a sponsor of the Recycling Partnership.
Benefits of membership
Coca-Cola has derived two sets of benefits from its involvement in the Recycling Partnership, Meyers said.
“First, we’re forming relationships and helping to build better communities, both from an environmental perspective and an economic perspective. We’re saving a huge amount of material from being sent to landfills. Not only are the cities not paying to throw those materials away, but they’re monetizing those materials. And, they’re creating jobs in the process.”
Referring to Columbia Mayor Stephen Benjamin’s recent 2015 State of the City address, which many Recycling Partnership members attended, Meyers said, “When the mayor stops his speech to acknowledge the Partnership and express his gratitude for its contribution, it’s inspiring and it makes us want to get involved in more cities.”
The second set of benefits Coca-Cola has derived relate to the company’s own sustainability goals.
“Very few programs will help you drive your sustainability initiatives the way recycling can,” Meyers said. “A successful program generates tremendous savings of water, carbon, and energy. It’s a pretty compelling story.”