Germany has done much to promote the coming World Cup's environmental aspects but its "Green Goal" initiative may be under threat by main sponsor Coca-Cola's plan to sell plastic bottles at the tournament.
Germany's environment ministry fears a "garbage orgy" if Coke gets the go-ahead
The marriage of Germany's World Cup and main sponsor Coca-Cola could be heading for the rocks after it was revealed that the soft drinks giant intends to sell its beverage in plastic 0.5 liter (16.9 ounce) bottles at the global soccer spectacle next summer.
Such a move would be in direct contrast to the German Organizing Committee's (OK) commitment to a waste-free competition and the OK's "Green Goal" initiative to promote environmentally practices during the month long tournament.
Thirsty soccer fans may be drinking from plastic bottles on match days.
Coca-Cola's decision has not only riled the OK but also soccer's world governing body FIFA which has praised Germany over its commitment to green projects including improved public transportation and energy saving incentives. FIFA is expected to rule against the US company's intended use of plastic receptacles over biodegradable paper cups at a meeting at the start of 2006.
The Coca-Cola group, however, seems unlikely to budge.
"We place great value on the bottles" said a group spokesperson in a statement which did not deal with the stand-off directly.
The German government's environment ministry is also reported to be dismayed by the possible use of throwaway plastic bottles, saying that the use of such drink containers at the World Cup next summer could turn the showpiece tournament into a "garbage orgy."
The environment ministry could kick the "Green Goal" initiative into touch.
The ministry is also threatening to distance itself from the "Green Goal" initiative if Coca-Cola is allowed to sell plastic bottles at the World Cup.
A question of security has also been raised. Full bottles could be thrown or used to transport liquids other than the intended Coke into the stadiums.
Coca-Cola has responded to such fears by saying that its plastic bottles would be sold without lids inside the grounds only. Opponents of the plan believe the security aspect alone is enough for FIFA to refuse Coca-Cola's proposal.
Most Bundesliga stadiums in Germany already operate an environmentally friendly system where drinking receptacles are either made from reinforced paper or are designed to be re-used.