SYDNEY, Feb.18 (Xinhua) -- Environmental activists were arrested in Sydney Monday, outside Coca-Cola's Australian HQ after scaling an office block and displaying a giant banner to protest Coke's refusal to back a cash-for-containers recycling program.
The Greenpeace organized protest drew immediate fire from industry with the Australian Food and Grocery Council's (AFGC) CEO Gary Dawson, who calls the action by Greenpeace another example of the 'environmental lobby trying to pull the wool over consumer's eyes.'
Dawson said, "The environmental lobby advocates a system that will cost consumers at the checkout."
Two Greenpeace members were arrested by police and could face malicious damage charges after they climbed ladders outside the North Sydney offices to unfurl the banner displaying a dead albatross with a cut-open gullet full of waste plastic.
Written in bold next to the dead bird was: "Brought to you by Coca-Cola".
Greenpeace spokesman Reece Turner told reporters that the protest was targeting Coca-Cola for taking Australia's Northern Territory government to the Federal Court to overturn its cash for containers recycling scheme.
Mr. Dawson said beverage manufacturers, through the legal action, due to begin in the Federal Court in Sydney on Tuesday, were seeking certainty regarding their ongoing legal obligations with regard to the container scheme.
However, Greenpeace said that all governments should stand up to the drinks giant and not be intimidated.
Greenpeace maintains its position that 'sensible' container schemes that reduced waste as well as the threat to seabirds and other wildlife, were in the interests of all Australians.
While a large crowd gathered to watch the protest, supported on the ground by a handful of environment activists, police rescue arrived on the scene and removed the banner down inside 25 minutes.
Coke's case opposes a 10 cent deposit on drink purchases, refundable when the container is returned to a designated recycling agent.Backing the beverage giant, Dawson said, nowhere in the world is there a drink container deposit scheme that is free to consumers.
"All Australians need to know that the Council of Australian Governments has found the cost of this scheme will be up to $1.76 billion to the economy." He said.
"Industry wants more recycling and less litter and we have a plan to deliver it at no cost to consumers. That's the plan that Australia needs, not an inconvenient and costly drink container tax."
Mr Turner responded by saying 25 percent of waste plastic in the oceans came from the beverage industry.
"We're here to tell governments to stand up to Coke and not to be intimidated by this legal action."