February 28, 2002

Students Protest Pepsi For Recycling Practices

Print More

The “Take the Pepsi Challenge” demonstration in the Willard Straight Hall lobby did not involve a taste test as several Cornell students may have anticipated. Organized by the Cornell Greens and Ecopledge.com, a non-profit environmental organization, yesterday’s challenge was mobilized to pressure PepsiCo, Inc. to start using recycled plastic in its products.

The Cornell Greens plan to return empty Pepsi bottles to the company labeled with an individual sponsor’s name and return address. Students also wrote messages to the company that would be placed inside the returned bottles.

The Cornell Greens obtained over eighty sponsors in five hours, exceeding its original goal of five sponsors per hour.

To pay for the fifty-seven cent postage necessary to return each empty bottle to Pepsi, the Cornell Greens asked students for donations, which were collected after the demonstration. The organization has already raised thirty dollars for the campaign.

According to the Cornell Greens, Pepsi does not use any recycled plastic in its products, though the company encourages its consumers to recycle individual bottles.

On its Web site, Pepsi states its commitment to the environment and describes one of its “environmentally friendly initiatives” as the “Please Recycle” message on its products. The company does not mention producing its products from recycled material.

This fact surprised many Cornell students, who chose to sponsor the event by filling out a label with their name and address.

“I am very surprised that such a big company can get away with not recycling,” said Yiwei Wang ’04.

“It is ridiculous that Pepsi is not using recycled bottles,” said Ashley St. Amand ’05.

Christelle Munnelly ’05, the campaign’s coordinator, was introduced to this campaign by Frankie Lind ’01, a field worker for Ecopledge.com, at the 2001 “Greening the Ivies” convention held at Dartmouth College.

“We were inspired to take on Pepsi after succeeding in a campaign to get Coca-Cola, Inc. to start using recycled plastic in its products,” said Munnelly.

Lind participated in the Coca-Cola campaign in the spring of 2000.