Company brings exhibit linking Coke, trash to Atlanta

Just days after arousing the ire of Coca-Cola with an exhibit of trash that includes of some of Coke's most popular brands, an Israel-based company that promotes making soft drinks at home is bringing its message to Atlanta, the beverage giant's home turf.

SodaStream will be in Centennial Olympic Park on Friday and Saturday to display its traveling "caged" refuse exhibit. The exhibit, which will be set up just blocks away from Coke's North Avenue headquarters, seeks to demonstrate the number of beverage bottles and cans an average family uses that end up in American landfills.

Earlier this month, in South Africa, the display brought out Coke's lawyers. They sent SodaStream a "cease and desist" letter demanding that it remove Coke''s products from the exhibit and refrain from using them in the future.

SodaStream Chief Executive Officer Daniel Birnbaum said he is surprised that Coke believes it has ownership of a product after it has been purchased by a consumer. SodaStream, which has more than 30 of the exhibits traveling around the globe, gets the bottles and cans from landfills, not by purchasing them as part of a marketing campaign, he said.

"I think this is touching a nerve and created a knee-jerk reaction," Birnbaum said.

Coke spokesman Kent Landers said the letter was issued in South Africa only. He said Coke supports recycling and is an advocate of keeping its products out of landfills.

"The fact is that Coca-Cola is committed to increasing the recovery and recycling of our packaging around the globe," Landers said. "In North America alone, we have helped place more than 150,000 recycle bins into the market since 2008 to increase recovery of our packaging. In Georgia, we have placed more than 20,000 bins throughout public venues and in homes through the City of Atlanta’s curbside recycling program."

Compared with Coke, SodaStream's market share is very small, experts said. The company's products are sold in retail stores across the country, including Target, Wal-Mart, Macy's, Sears and Bed Bath & Beyond.

However, Birnbaum said the company, which distributes in 43 countries, has grown 50 percent in the first quarter of 2012 and 39 percent overall in 2011.