Dutch packaging covenant breach claimed

NGOs target Coca Cola in protest over growing use of non-returnable soft drink bottles

Dutch manufacturers and users of plastics packaging are failing over a voluntary agreement signed with the government in 1997, two environmental groups said last week. Friends of the Earth the Netherlands and the Netherlands Society for Nature and Environment (SNM) stacked 3,000 non-returnable Coca Cola bottles around the reception desk at the firm's Dutch headquarters near Rotterdam in protest.

Agreed in 1997, the second Dutch packaging covenant aims to achieve a 10% reduction in overall packaging use and a 65% recycling rate by 2001, both based on 1986 levels (ENDS Daily 9 July 1997). The main plastics packaging goals were 27% recycling and no more than 2% of soft drinks packaging to be small (below one litre) non-returnable polyethylene teraphthalate (PET) bottles.

Based on commissioned estimates, the groups allege that the quota has been largely overtaken. Small PET bottles not subject to deposits now account for up to 7% of the nation's soft drink market, from virtually nothing two years ago, Philippe Spapens of SNM told ENDS Daily. Mr Spapens said the groups had targeted Coca Cola because it was the largest operator in the market, but stressed that other firms had broken the quota too.

The two NGOs' protest follows earlier warnings delivered to the government that the plastics packaging recycling target for 2001 would not be reached. According to SNM, the current rate is close to 12%, less than half the 2001 target.

Follow Up:
SNM, tel: +31 30 233 1328; Coca Cola Netherlands, tel: +31 10 245 5400.

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