ARTICLE: Charlotte Incentive Program with Coke

Did you see this article about Charlotte’s new incentive program? Interesting public-private partnership. Coke seems to be coming to the table with some money - $200,000 on promotion via a direct mailing and stickers for collection bins and $26,000 a year for the Harris Teeter gift card incentive. I can’t wait to see the results. I hope it works! Excerpts from the article are below.

A new twist on trash: Prizes for recyclers Plan would reward families for participating, help company get more plastic.
By Julia Oliver, joliver@charlotteobserver.com
Posted: Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008

Put a Coca-Cola sticker on your recycling bin next year, make sure you follow city recycling rules, and you could win $50. That's the gist of a yearlong promotion the Charlotte-based Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated is hoping to start in February. It's aimed at increasing recycling, and advocates applaud the effort as a simple, fun way to encourage residents to care about the environment. The City Council approved the concept Monday and will take a final vote Jan. 12. But some council members worry about the costs to the city, estimated at $116,000 to $195,000 for overtime associated with increased curbside pickup. They also question allowing free placement of a corporate logo on city property.

“What have we really done to ferret out all the issues on this proposal?” council member Anthony Foxx asked.

One element not mentioned in the pitch to the City Council was the potential business boon to Coke. Increased recycling pickup in Charlotte would help the soft drink company collect more plastic bottles for a newly expanded, state-of-the-art recycling plant about 75 miles away in Spartanburg, S.C.

Lauren Steele, vice president of corporate affairs at the bottling company, said that's “a peripheral part of the deal. “It's certainly not the primary driver,” he said.

Already, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. has been ramping up plastic purchasing at Mecklenburg's recycling facility, said Graham Stevens, director of sustainability and growth for FCR, the company that runs the Mecklenburg center. FCR bundles the plastic in bales, which Coke and other companies buy. He said Coke has negotiated a new contract, but declined to give specifics.

“They will become one of our largest buyers of plastic,” he said. “Any promotion they do is great for the environment, but it's also good for them.”

Coca-Cola's Spartanburg plant makes new soda bottles out of old ones, which is cheaper than using “virgin” plastic resin, said Boo Hayes, chief financial officer at United Resource Recovery Corp., a co-owner of the plant.

By 2010, it is expected to be the world's biggest “bottle-to-bottle” recycling facility in the world. By January, it will be able to produce 55 million pounds of recycled plastic each year.

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