Ashburn, Va. (Sept. 20, 2019) — An average of 8.8 million tons of plastic waste enters our ocean from waterways across the globe each year, threatening marine and human life and harming natural ecosystems. However, community-based solutions can start to address this issue, while also improving parks and creating local green jobs.
On Sept. 19, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), The Coca-Cola Company, the city of Atlanta, the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, Groundwork Atlanta, Park Pride and the Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 are partnering to make a difference in Atlanta. The organizations hosted an event to install trash-catchment systems — five Litter Gitters and one Bandalong Litter Trap — in Proctor Creek watershed to help protect the city’s waterways.
The Litter Gitter, a small-stream litter collection device, uses floating booms that guide trash into a collection container. The Bandalong Litter Trap is a large industrial-grade aluminum litter trap that uses the current to guide debris into the trap. Neither trap requires nets or fencing, thus preventing harm to fish and other wildlife.
The systems will be installed with the goal of collecting and reducing 80 percent of downstream litter in the Proctor Creek watershed. Currently, five Litter Gitters are installed at three different park locations in the Proctor Creek watershed, including Grove Park, Center Hill Park and Proctor Creek Greenway – Boyd Elementary. The Bandalong will be installed in early 2020 at the site of the Future Proctor Creek park.
The Coca-Cola Company provided a grant to NRPA to support these installations at four different park sites throughout the Proctor Creek watershed. The Proctor Creek grant helps support The Coca-Cola Company’s global World Without Waste goal to recycle and reuse the equivalent of 100 percent of the bottles and cans it sells by 2030. In addition to the grant, Coca-Cola will work with the Proctor Creek partners to recycle and reuse the bottles collected through the new trash-catchment systems and turn those bottles into graduation gowns for Atlanta Public Schools’ 2020 class of high school seniors. Throughout the year, Coca-Cola is hosting recycling collection events in its headquarters and at key events in Atlanta to collect bottles that can then be recycled and reused to make the graduation gowns.
“At The Coca-Cola Company, we care about our oceans and waterways and want to help ensure that Proctor Creek remains a vibrant urban watershed for generations to come,” said Caren Pasquale Seckler, vice president, social commitment. “Through these litter catchment systems, we hope to not only reduce pollution in our local waterways, but to also demonstrate the benefits that recycling brings to a local community.”
Proctor Creek flows, often unseen, through residential, industrial, commercial and parkland. The 9-mile tributary of the Chattahoochee River sits in a highly urban area connecting more than 35 neighborhoods, many of which are below the federal poverty line. The area is home to approximately 60,000 people in Atlanta and contains numerous brownfield sites. It often experiences stormwater runoff and flooding that carries trash into local waterways.
Neighborhoods in the Proctor Creek watershed have a rich history, housing several historically Black Colleges and Universities. The area has served as an incubator for African American civil rights leaders, such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Julian Bond and Andrew Young. It also marks the locations of notable historical events, such as Washington Park, the first park in the city opened to African Americans.
“Parks improve not only the health of the environment, but also the health of communities,” said Karl Schrass, NRPA’s director of conservation. “We are proud to partner with The Coca-Cola Company, the city of Atlanta and others on this project that benefits the health of underserved, marginalized neighborhoods in the Proctor Creek watershed. This project supports NRPA’s efforts to make healthy, active waterways a reality in every community across the nation.”
Trash-catchment systems in the watershed will help revitalize the creek and address water-quality issues, while improving overall quality of life for the community. Educational signs will provide information about the systems, describe the problem of nonpoint source pollution, encourage recycling and reuse, and explain how to properly dispose of trash in receptacles. Environmental education site visits and volunteer events held at the installation sites will engage the local community. The project also incorporates a program that trains local community members on how to maintain the trash traps. Educational programming and creation of local green jobs will help facilitate lasting change, as well as foster environmental, economic and social benefits.
In addition, the partners will collect data on the types and amount of trash captured to identify trends and document the effectiveness of the different trash-trap designs. Information gathered through December 2020 will inform best practices about optimal mitigation strategies. This will be shared to help other communities determine if these solutions would be valuable to their local waterways.
This project demonstrates the ability of public-private-philanthropic partnerships to help provide clean, trash-free water, while providing local green jobs and educational opportunities.
About World Without Waste
In 2018, The Coca-Cola Company announced a bold and ambitious goal: to create a World Without Waste by helping to collect and recycle the equivalent of a bottle or can for each one it sells by 2030; to significantly increase the amount of recycled materials it uses in its products to an average of 50 percent by 2030; and to make all of its packaging recyclable by 2025. To do this, Coca-Cola is redesigning and rethinking its packaging, and working to help increase recycling collection rates by simplifying the recycling ecosystem and inspiring consumers by illustrating the potential good that can be created from a recycled bottle or cans. For more information, www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/world-without-waste
About The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is a total beverage company, offering over 500 brands in more than 200 countries and territories. In addition to the company’s Coca-Cola brand, our portfolio includes AdeS, Ayataka, Costa, Dasani, Del Valle, Fanta, Georgia, Gold Peak, Honest, innocent, Minute Maid, Powerade, Simply, smartwater, Sprite, vitaminwater and ZICO. We’re constantly transforming our portfolio, from reducing sugar in our drinks to bringing innovative new products to market. We’re also working to reduce our environmental impact by replenishing water and promoting recycling. With our bottling partners, we employ more than 700,000 people, helping bring economic opportunity to local communities worldwide. Learn more at Coca-Cola Journey at www.coca-colacompany.com and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.
About the National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.