The company that bottles Coca-Cola in Australia is combating claims that its plastic soft drink and spring-water bottles are bad for the environment, by pointing to reductions in the amount of PET it uses while producing more bottles.
Sydney-based Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd. also is facing criticism over its bottled water from a conservation group the bottler sponsors.
A representative of the Sydney-based not-for-profit group Landcare Australia Ltd. has attacked a sponsorship deal under which labels on PET-packaged bottles of CCA's Mount Franklin-branded spring water encourage consumers to support CCA-funded tree-planting projects undertaken by Landcare.
Nannette Lamrock, a Landcare community support officer in New South Wales, told a Sydney newspaper CCA's use of plastic bottles conflicts with Landcare's aims and is an attempt by CCA to ``greenwash'' its public image.
But when contacted, Lamrock refused to comment further, saying only that she had had a confidential discussion about the issue with her regional Landcare board.
CCA responded to Lamrock's claims by saying the promotion to plant 250,000 trees is in addition to a sponsorship deal the bottler has with Landcare.
Sally Loane, a CCA spokeswoman, said the company has a sound environmental record. She said the Mount Franklin bottles are recyclable and CCA is continually ``lightweighting'' its PET bottles.
``In other words, less PET is used in their manufacture,'' she said. ``We have saved 18,000 [metric] tons [39 million pounds] of PET through lightweighting our bottles over the past four years.''
In 2004, CCA used 2,204 pounds of PET to make 38,000 drink bottles. Today, the same weight makes 45,000 bottles, according to Loane.
``PET bottles are recycled about 21/2 times more than other plastics in Australia,'' she said.
Australia's bottled-water industry, which predominately markets its products in PET bottles, is fighting allegations at home and abroad that bottled water is bad for the environment because of emissions generated by importing the product and litter caused by discarded bottles.
In March, the Sydney-based Australasian Bottled Water Institute responded to claims, aired on BBC television program Panorama, that producing and delivering bottled water to the United Kingdom from as far away as Fiji emitted ``hundreds of times as much greenhouse gas'' as the equivalent amount of tap water. Tony Gentile, ABWI chief executive officer, said the claim was ``meaningless.''
Gentile said the only valid comparison was between bottled water and other bottled products, not tap water.
``Someone who goes into a shop and buys bottled water is making a choice between it and other packaged products, such as soft drink, milk or fruit juice,'' he said.
Gentile said the carbon-footprint argument can be used to suggest people in overseas markets should not buy Australian wine or other imported goods.