The can-conned

 
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

the colour is unmistakably red. The screaming television advertisements sell a lifestyle that makes red the desirable colour, the lifestyle "we've all been waiting for" and renders drinking Coke from cans a status symbol. The marketing wizards of the multinational company ( mnc ) are scoring big; it has now become a habit among middle-class school-going children to implore their parents to buy them Coke in cans. And despite the fact that the canned drink is double the price of its bottled variety, the can has conned away 30 per cent of the market share in six months flat.

But in the blind pursuance of Western fads, we are totally ignoring a looming disaster -- because the end of the drink is the beginning of an environmental hazard. The cans that jump from eager hands to expectant lips and then to the garbage pile are made of aluminium. It has been established that the process of recycling this material is far more energy-intensive than cans made of tin alloys. The case against cans has been proved for long in the West, and countries like Denmark are now passing laws to ban them, while Australia is including the high cost of recycling in the sale price.

There is another diabolic game going on. International environmental ngo s have been repeatedly warning us that in the us , the motherland of Coke, the cans are bound to carry a certificate that they are made from recycled material. But the truth is that the cans used there are re-used to be sold in poorer countries like India. It is there that the hazardous recycling takes place. So, the mnc s are continuously packaging foodstuff in environmentally damaging material, and dumping them in the South.

But one would expect them to do so. They are in business. But what about our policy-makers? Why are they not listening to Denmark or Australia? It has now been estimated that over 80 per cent of the foreign direct investment is in the consumer durables segment. And in chasing the questionable lifestyle of the West, economic growth is opening up the country to a pincer attack on our culture, and through it, our environment, which need not be the case. But will our political bosses ever wake up and take action?

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