As corporations increasingly use their financial and legal power to silence and challenge campaigning organizations, the risks to not-for- profits are significant.
Environmental organizations and campaigners are particularly vulnerable as they face off against corporate heavyweights who are well-resourced, well-connected and powerful.
The risks facing not-for-profits who take on corporate heavyweights was demonstrated in the recent case of the WWF and its legal stoush with mining magnate Clive Palmer.
In a media release WWF claimed that the Clive Palmer owned Yubala nickel refinery near Townsville Queensland was threatening to collapse, thereby releasing toxins into the environment. The WWF claimed that three ponds containing toxic industrial waste were at capacity and could collapse and create a major environmental disaster.
Palmer sued the WWF and was successful in the court proceedings. The WWF was forced to apologize to Clive Palmer and agreed to pay his legal costs over its claims..
Now Greenpace Australia is taking on another global corporate heavyweight Coca Cola and it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds.
Greenpeace Australia has launched a media campaign against corporate heavyweight Coca Cola Amatil to pressure Federal and State Governments to implement a national containers scheme.
Greenpeace's campaign comes in the wake of Coca Cola Amatil's victory in the Northern Terriry courts where the powerful and wealthy multinational corporation used its financial and legal power to successfully dismantle the Northern Territory Government's recycling scheme 'cash for containers'. In January 2011 the Northern Territory Government introduced a deposit scheme to encourgage people to recycle bottles and cans. Coca Cola successfully challenged the scheme in court claiming it was an inefficient and expensive method of increasing recycling rates.
Greenpeace is running full-page ads in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. Its campaign has been entirely funded by individual donations. In just over two weeks, over 50,000 people have signed up to the campaign calling on politicians to implement a national ‘Cash for Containers’ scheme.
Greenpeace is targeting Coca Cola Amatil directly arguing that:
"Coke is currently trashing a popular and proven 10 cent recycling refund scheme and is the main blocker standing in the way of a national scheme. ‘Cash for containers’ has run successfully for 30 years in South Australia, where recycling rates are almost double those across the rest of the country.
Coca Cola Amatil has for years sought to undermine this proven system, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on misleading advertising and reportedly threatening to campaign against MPs who support the policy.