SodaStream revisited

by Fiona Joy Green

A bit of research shows that SodaStream is not without controversy. First developed in 1903, owned by various UK companies, and solely owned by Cadbury Schweppes in 1985, it was sold in 1998 to Israeli company Soda-Club. In 2012, a line of soda machines was designed emphasizing sustainability and SodaStream was rewarded with approval from Good Housekeeping Institute in 2013.

As part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign launched in 2005 to pressure Israel to end the occupation of, among other places, the West Bank, SodaStream was criticized for operating its primary manufacturing plant in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone. This land in the West Bank was illegally confiscated by the Israeli military occupation authorities from Palestinian owners.

In 2014, Human Rights Watch pronounced “It is impossible to ignore the Israeli system of unlawful discrimination, land confiscation, natural resource theft, and forced displacement of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, where SodaStream is located“.

During this time, there was a fairly successful international boycott of SodaStream. A year later, SodaStream closed the factory, laying off 500 Palestinian workers to save $9 million in production costs, and transferred its operations to a new larger factory in Lehavim, where it employed mostly Bedouin Arabs“, indigenous peoples who have also been displaced from their lands.

The move of its production to southern Israel and its purchase by PepsiCo for $3.2 million and the resulting increase in stock prices in 2018, cleaned SodaStream’s reputation and was no longer so easily associated with the controversial and unethical practices of the past.

This leaves consumers like me to dig into the history of companies and decide if they’re able to support their current business practices.

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