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Coke in green clothing

Ever since Coca Cola set up shop in the Mehdigani area of Varanasi India, villages surrounding the plant have groundwater shortages. According to the India Resource Centre, levels have dropped six metres in in six years, creating the worst water conditions in the entire district of Varanasi. Over 5,000 villagers will take their grievances against Coca Cola to the streets on Monday Nov. 30, in a protest demanding that the plant be shut down.

Meanwhile, in Canada, Coca Cola plans to use the 2010 Olympics to brand itself as green by launching a new plant-based bottled at the mega sporting event to take place in Vancouver next February. The following letter was submitted to the Globe and Mail in response to an article about Coke’s plans, but never published:

Coca Cola’s “plant bottle” is nothing more than an attempt to greenwash the corporation’s poor environmental record at the 2010 Olympics. The “plant bottles” are still primarily plastic requiring large amounts of water – the production of a one litre plastic bottle of water requires three to five litres of water- and fossil fuels to manufacture.More importantly, plant bottles will not erase Coca Cola’s record of environmental abuse. According to the Indian NGO India Resource Centre, there is a pattern of water shortages in Indian communities where there are Coca-Cola bottling plants. The organization has documented unprecedented declines in groundwater in the area Kara Dala after a Coca-Cola bottling plant began tapping into the aquifers. Groundwater levels dropped by a dramatic 19 feet over the course of a single year. Yet Coca-Cola draws water in this drought-prone region during the summer months when water shortages are most pronounced.Coca-Cola opera¬tions have also contributed to the contamination of drinking water sources around the world. In Paw Paw, Michigan, the beverage company sprayed waste water into the soil for 23 years. As a result, the groundwater in the area remains con¬taminated with heavy metals and carcinogenic chemicals including arsenic and lead.