CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The Coca-Cola Bottling Co. is Keep America Beautiful's business of the year, and Joyce Johnson is the volunteer of the year.
The awards were presented Friday at the annual breakfast of Keep America Beautiful of Cleveland and Bradley County.
The Johnston Coca-Cola Bottling Co. was established in Cleveland in 1907, moving to its current location in 1975. In mid-2008, the company began its green initiative, KAB Director Joanne Maskew said, with dramatic results.
From recycling an estimated 25 percent of the company's waste in 2007, the company was up to 50 percent by the end of 2008. Today, the recycling rate at the Coke plant is 95 percent.
"They continually strive to communicate to their employees, community and students that recycling not only diverts recyclables from the landfill but reduces the amount used of valuable, nonrenewable resources," Maskew said.
Debbie Millard, accepting the award for Coca-Cola, said the initiative goes into local schools and other businesses, too. Coke's "Give It Back" recycling program reaches 13 schools, Cleveland State Community College and seven businesses, she said.
"The schools can exchange recyclable materials for 50 percent recycled copy paper or credits for the purchases of trees, shrubs and plants," Millard said.
Volunteer of the year Joyce Johnson serves on the KAB Neighborhood Committee at environmental awareness exhibits.
Her work with Keep America Beautiful began through her volunteering with a local Ruritan Club, along with her husband, W.W. Johnson.
"I have recycled for years," she said. "We always have carried back home our cans and papers to recycle."
Johnson began her environmental service by taking part in the Ruritan Club's annual essay contest for students. Essays on environmental topics will be offered again this year, she said.