Softdrink supergiant Coca-Cola has demanded that a recycling-themed installation known as The Cage, part of Sodastream’s advertising-cum-ecofriendly campaign, be taken down. Why? Some of the landfill-sourced bottles still retain legible Coke or Sprite labels.
The Cage, which actress Susan Sarandon originally unveiled in 2011, is a travelling exhibition that brings home the amount of beverage-related waste the average family creates: “5078 bottles & cans per family, every three years,” according to Sodastream. Since Coca-Cola says it sells 1.6 billion servings every day globally, well some of these bottles and cans are most likely from Coke’s parent company.
This installation is about advertising, but it’s also about art and reality: Coca-Cola shouldn’t be able to pretend that a trashed Coke bottle isn’t a trashed Coke bottle. Perhaps executives fear attention will be drawn away from their own environmental initiatives, which include a partnership with Recyclebank and the introduction of sugarcane bottles. Coke claims it plans to “recover half of the bottles and cans it sold annually and worldwide by 2015,” which is laudable, but bottleless is better than half.
What’s happening here is a battle over money and trademark fought using citizens who want the best for their planet and their bodies. Coca-Cola is responsible for the manufacturing and marketing of these bottles; we are responsible for purchasing and not recycling them. The solution may or may not be to use a Sodastream, but the problem is certainly a surplus of waste.