April 19, 2002
Contact: Hermina Morita
Phone: (808) 586-8435


Beverage Industry Opposes Bottle Bill to Protect Huge Profits


The chair of the House Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection says the beverage industry continues to enjoy excessive profits at the expense of Hawaii consumers and the environment.

Rep. Hermina Morita (D - East/North Kauai & East Maui) said, "This is much like the Chevron's gasoline overpricing scheme. No one objects to business making a profit, but when those profits place unwarranted costs and burdens on our communities, where is corporate morality and responsibility?

At the heart of the debate is House Bill 1256, House Draft 2, Senate Draft 2, to establish a statewide recycling program through a refundable deposit on beverage containers, commonly called the "Bottle Bill." The holdover measure from last session is pending a House-Senate conference committee.

"This bill is long overdue and has the support of all county mayors, all solid waste managers, all recycling coordinators as well as the Governor. But the industry continues its resistance, offering thinly veiled arguments to protect their excessive profits," she said.

Morita said the industry is responsible for the increase of beverage containers in the solid waste stream, "an action that they could have chosen to avoid but carried out anyway because of the huge profits involved."

She cited an April 17, 2002 statement by Pat Franklin, Executive Director, Container Recycling Institute, aimed at beverage giants Coke and Pepsi:

"Marketing strategies and packaging choices made by Coke and Pepsi are major reasons bottle and can waste has doubled in the past 8 years, from 18 billion Coke cans and bottles littered or landfilled in 1992 to more than 36 billion in 2000. While these strategies have increased beverage sales and corporate profits, local governments and taxpayers get stuck with disposal, litter pickup and recycling costs. These costs are high, but the environmental costs of Coke and Pepsi can and bottle waste is far higher."

Morita added that an article from the September 1996 issue of Beverage World explained how soft drink bottlers and retailers are reaping larger profits because of the changes in packaging. Repackaging from the aluminum can to a no-return 20-ounce plastic bottle has re-profited the industry, the article contends, adding that it would take sales of 26 cases of cans to make the equivalent profit of one case of 20-ounce bottles.

Morita said that it should come as no surprise that Coke and Pepsi are mainly behind the locally produced advertising campaign to stop the Hawaii bottle bill. "In 1996, the industry spent $3.2 million to defeat expansion of the Oregon bottle bill," she said.

"They characterize (H.B. 1256) as a new 2-cent new tax on consumers, but it doesn't have to be. They have the option of absorbing these pennies, which wouldn't even dent their massive profits and would go a long way to demonstrating some long overdue corporate responsibility on their part," she said.


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