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Plastic bottles

Coca-Cola influences Grand Canyon officials to scrap plastic bottle ban

Friday, November 11, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: plastic bottles, Grand Canyon, health news

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(NaturalNews) Plastic bottle waste represents the single largest source of litter at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, which is why park officials there have been working towards implementing a ban on the sale of disposable plastic bottles. But after a recent meeting with the Coca-Cola Company, which has donated more than $13 million to the National Park Foundation (NPF), the plan has now suddenly and mysteriously been scrapped.

A New York Times (NYT) report explains that Stephen P. Martin, a top official at the Grand Canyon, had worked hard with his team to develop a ban that would suit all stakeholders, including Coca-Cola, which sells Dasani brand water and other plastic bottle beverages at the park. The ban was all set to take effect Jan. 1, 2012, until Martin's superior, Jon Jarvis, called the whole thing off after meeting with a representative from the beverage giant.

"That was upsetting news because of what I felt were ethical issues surrounding the idea of being influenced unduly by business," said Martin to NYT concerning the sudden cancellation of the plan for no apparent reason. "It was even more of a concern because we had worked with all the people who would be truly affected in their sales and bottom line, and they accepted it."

Neil J. Mulholland, president of NPF, insists that Coca-Cola never tried to stop the ban, but merely asked questions about why it was taking place and how it would work. But Susan Stribling, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola, also stated recently that "banning anything is never the right answer," adding that such a policy unduly restricts individual choice -- this, of course, implies that her company may have tried to stop the ban.

Back in 2010, Martin presented data before NPF's Denver regional office and its Washington headquarters showing that the Grand Canyon sold roughly $400,000 worth of bottled water a year to park visitors. So it is safe to assume that Coca-Cola was likely concerned about losing the Grand Canyon market, as well as others within the national park system that may have followed its lead with bans of their own.

Jarvis has stated that the ban will be tabled indefinitely, at least until a meeting with major producers of bottled water takes place at some point next year. Meanwhile, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has filed a lawsuit to obtain records on this sudden about-face decision (http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=...).

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