ATLANTA (Nov. 10, 2 p.m. ET) — A plan to ban bottles at Grand Canyon National Park was postponed indefinitely late last year after the National Park Foundation president had discussions with Coca-Cola Co., a major contributor to the foundation, about its concerns with the ban.
Atlanta-based Coke, which sells water under the Dasani brand, has donated $13 million to the foundation, according to The New York Times.
Stephen Martin, the designer of the plan and a leading official at the park, said he was told two weeks before the plan's Jan. 1 start date that Coke had an issue with the plan and that “the project was being tabled,” the paper reported.
Martin said bottles are the largest source of trash found at the canyon.
To prepare for the ban, the park paid $300,000 to add more water filling stations for reusable bottles.
“That was upsetting news because of what I felt were ethical issues surrounding the idea of being influenced unduly by business,” Martin told the paper. “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.”
Foundation president Neil Mulholland said Coke asked him late in the process about the reasoning behind the ban and how it worked, but the company never said it would stop supporting the foundation if the plan was implemented.
“There was not an overt statement made to me that they objected to the ban,” Mulholland told the Times. “There was never anything inferred by Coke that if this ban happens, we're losing their support.”
Susan Stribling, a Coca-Cola Refreshments USA spokesperson, said a ban is not the right way to go.
“Banning is never the right answer,” she told the paper. “If you do that, you don't necessarily address the problem.”