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Sustainable design as pr spin

May 12, 2010

Coca-Cola has announced it’s making chairs out of old PET bottles and aluminum cans and instead of giving these chairs away to high schools in return for vending rights, it’s decided to sell them to the unhappy hipster crowd. Interestingly this is just one item from Coke’s line of “sustainable goods” that includes pens, jackets, etc.

Coke chair

On the surface it seems like great PR directed at those worried about those islands of plastic in the Atlantic and Pacific because Coke can point to these products as living proof of its pursuit of the recycling cause. The reality is that the products reuse fraction of the PET that Coke produces in its many product lines worldwide.

What’s really needed is something that’s beyond a token effort- soft drink and bottled water players need to come together and sort this problem out because it isn’t going away anytime soon.

It’s likely to get worse and a few chairs aren’t going to really change the minds of those who’ve been alarmed by Chris Jordan’s photographs of birds in the Pacific.

Plastic bottles are a big problem and if the players are now finding themselves competing with tap water. So other than using PR spin to slam the quality of local tap water, a dangerous ploy since most of them use tap water for their water, they need to deal with plastic.

How about banding together and creating a market for used PET and using their marketing skills to persuade brands to use it and consumers to buy it? One small part of this effort could be a line of products, like Coke has done, but containing used PET from all the players in the business.

This would be a big shift away from creating a PR spin to benefit a single corporate entity that has very little overall impact to something much bigger in scale that could be a game changer.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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