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Coca Cola Machine ‘Out of Order’ in Australia

A nationwide campaign against Coca Cola has followed their successful legal challenge on March 4, 2013 to container deposit legislation in Australia's Northern Territory. Robin Tennant-Wood summed up on The Conversation blog:

After the introduction of the Northern Territory’s CDL scheme last year, multinational beverage giant, Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA), announced that it would mount a legal challenge against the scheme.

… In the wake of the court decision, industrial sabotage activist group, Out Of Order, responded by putting “Out of Order” signs on CCA vending machines in all capital cities.

Out of Order Notice

Out of Order on the Gold Coast – Image: Out of Order facebook page

The Out of Order Facebook and Twitter accounts give their location as Hobart Tasmania, at the opposite end of the country. Its Facebook page explains that they have two other campaigns, namely ones against Banks ANZ and HSBC for their investment in coal and coal seam gas.

A petition at Sum of Us has over 110,000 signatures:

Stop fighting container deposit programs and drop your lawsuit against Australia's Northern Territory.

That’s about the same number of adults in the NT.

Out of Order is prepared to flaunt their arguably illegal activity, comparing themselves with the online activists Anonymous:

‏@itsoutoforder: But then again, maybe #outoforder are #anonymous , industrial sabotage activists… maybe we should ask #popefrancis

It’s not clear how the Pontiff can help. Like the Holy See, Australia’s Coca-Cola Amatil is getting a new CEO.

Take 3, a clean beach initiative posted a collage of photos on Facebook:

Out of Order Collage

Out of Order Collage – Photo: Take 3 facebook page

There is a similar group called Container Savers who even have their own App for photographing container rubbish:

Container refunds are the most effective mechanism for increasing recycling and reducing litter. The beverage industry opposes container refunds – let‘s show them where their trash ends up.

When you see drink container litter on the street, in a park, on the beach – or anywhere it shouldn‘t be – take a photo and upload it to the CS map.

For some reason their website has been suspended but their Facebook page and Twitter account are active. A sample of their work:

Container Litter

Container Litter – Photo: Container Savers facebook page

The Out of Order protest action is probably meant to have more of a symbolic impact than a financial one. Karen Marshall pointed out in Comments on the Out of Order Challenge photo album:

I checked the share prices yesterday and was alarmed to see they are not going through the floor but have risen since the beginning of this.

Nigel Arnold responded with concern about innocent victims:

I think this is a little unfair to the middle man. Most vending machines are privately owned.

Award winning cartoonist First Dog on the Moon aka Mr Onthemoon tweeted:

‏@firstdogonmoon: IS THAT LEGAL?!!? RT @itsoutoforder: Just heard about someone switching off twelve #coke machines as part of #OutOfOrder Coke Challenge.

His cartoon appeared on Crikey.com.au on March 5:

Unregulated markets will kill us all!

‘Unregulated markets will kill us all!’ Courtesy: First Dog on the Moon/Crikey

Greenpeace Australia Pacific has also been campaigning and has yet another petition:

@GreenpeaceAustP: .@CocaCola smashes popular 10 cent recycling scheme in NT. Tell the govt this is unacceptable http://bit.ly/stoptrashingaus_tw#cokefail

Meanwhile the NT government has taken steps to support the deposit scheme until Australian governments can consider laws to enable its implementation. Clean Up Australia, organisers of Clean Up Australia Day, are very pleased:

@Clean_Up : Congrats to the NT government for underwriting the cash for containers scheme for the next 8 weeks and pay everyone their 10cents! #cokefail

Coca Cola Australia has thanked their critics and responded on their Facebook page. On 6 March they announced:

…a continuation of our commitment to recycling, a $5 million investment with our industry partners, for the Northern Territory to boost recycling rates and reduce litter.
For all the details – http://bit.ly/13FJWr0

Nigel Mitchell’s view seemed representative of the negative reactions amongst the 600+ comments so far:

So, if the COAG [Council of Australian Governments] meeting decides to support national implementation of a CDS, will Coke support this, or will they continue with their anti-environment and anti-democratic policies?

In fact, there wasn’t a neutral or supportive comment in the first hundred or so. What do the silent majority think? We know what they drink – Coke's Aussie facebook page has 936,000+ Likes.

The State of South Australia passed container deposit legislation in 1975 and has had a scheme since 1977.

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