Reports from Washington are emerging that Coca Cola, a major contributor to the National Parks Foundation, may have influenced the decision of US Park Officials to pull the plug on a planned ban on the sale of single use plastic water bottles in the Grand Canyon.
Last year Grand Canyon National Park officials were planning to stop the sale of single-use water bottles in the park. The park has already spent $300,000 installing additional water fountains for reusable bottles throughout concession stands in anticipation of the ban.
Plastic bottles are the most common type of litter found inside the canyon, and the park sells roughly $400,000 worth of bottled water each year. The proposal would have applied only to smaller water bottles, not soda or juice bottles.
According to Stephen P. Martin, the recently retired top parks official who proposed the ban, the plan was abruptly halted two weeks before implementation due to Coke’s concerns. Coca-Cola is the distributor of the major water brand Dasani, and has donated over $13 million to the park foundation.
"That was upsetting news because of what I felt were ethical issues surrounding the idea of being influenced unduly by business. 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."
A representative for Coca Cola stated that the company wants to focus on decreasing litter through recycling efforts rather than an outright ban.
It’s not the first time this year that Coke has been in the news for behaving badly. Environmentalists blasted the company for greenwashing its so called "plant" bottle last spring, and for reneging on its plastic recycling promises this summer.
Most recently, Coke is being named as the likely culprit behind requests that American Idol remove an anti-plastic public service announcement featuring several of show's Season 10 stars. Coke is one of the show's sponsors. Watch the video in question here.