- Category: Business
30 Jul 2009
- Published on Thursday, 30 July 2009 13:29
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the 10 recipients of the Natural Health Magazine’s first
“Green Choice” awards. Image sourced from Coca-Cola
The Coca-Cola Company prides itself in being the largest beverage company in the world, owning four of the world’s top five non-alcoholic sparkling beverage brands. Coca-Cola adds another feather to its cap of achievements by being included in this year’s list of the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World.
Coca-Cola is certainly no stranger to the Global 100 list as the company has been included in it for three years in a row since 2006. Coca-Cola has proven itself worthy of this achievement through the numerous green initiatives that the company has undertaken throughout the years. These environmental protection efforts focus on global water stewardship, sustainable packaging, and energy management and climate protection, which all help reduce Coca-Cola’s carbon footprint.
As the company’s main business is producing beverages, it is a given that Coca-Cola consumes massive amounts of water daily. In 2006, the company and its franchised bottlers used approximately 290 billion liters of water for beverage production, with 114 billion liters contained in the beverages themselves and another 176 billion liters used in manufacturing processes such as rinsing, cleaning, heating, and cooling.
The danger of water shortage is slowly becoming a reality to us, with an estimated one-third of the world’s population projected to experience severe and chronic water shortages by 2025. In fact, a report from Scientific American cited Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, who decreed that all companies must reduce their water consumption by 10% in a midst of a regional drought last year. This encouraged Coca-Cola even more to protect and preserve the world’s water resources by focusing on sustainable water use practices.
In 2007, Coca-Cola announced its commitment for global water stewardship, pledging to replace the water it used in its beverages and their production. The company has entered into a $20-million multi-year partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to help preserve seven of the most important freshwater river basins in the world, manage water consumption more efficiently in its operations and the supply chain, and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the company.
Coca-Cola’s comprehensive water conservation strategy focuses on three aspects:
• Reduce. The company aims to improve water efficiency in all its operations by 20% by 2012, as compared to its consumption levels in 2004. Coca-Cola’s targets will build on the water-efficiency improvements already done by the company in the past five years, resulting to the decrease of total water use by 5.6%, the increase of sales volume by 14.6%, and the increase in water efficiency by 18.6%. While Coca-Cola’s total water consumption will continue to increase in the coming years, the company projects that more than 13.2 billion gallons of water will be saved because the ratio of the water used to produce each beverage will be narrowed down.
• Recycle. The company intends to return all the water used for manufacturing processes to the environment that will support aquatic life and agriculture by the end of 2010.
• Replenish. The company plans to support healthy watersheds and sustainable communities to offset the water used in its finished products. Coca-Cola has community and watershed programs in around 40 countries. One of these programs is its Replenish Africa Initiative, where Coca-Cola has committed $30 million over the next six years to provide at least two million Africans with clean water and sanitation by 2015.
Coca-Cola’s water conservation efforts have earned the company the 2009 World Environment Center Award, said Muhtar Kent, President and Chief Executive Officer. Coca-Cola also saw a 2% improvement in water use efficiency since 2006.
Coca-Cola, the first company to introduce a beverage bottle made with recycled plastic, also aimed to make the packaging of its products more sustainable. About 85% of Coca Cola’s global beverage volume distribution is using packaging made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, aluminum, glass, and steel, all of which are 100% recyclable. For the remaining 15%, Coca-Cola uses sustainable bulk packaging systems such as refillable steel tanks or the bag-in-box (BIB) containers.
In 2000, the company introduced its Ultra Glass contour bottle, which is 40% stronger, 20% lighter, and 10% less expensive than traditional contour bottles. The use of the Ultra Glass bottles has eliminated 52,000 metric tons of glass, reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 26,000 tons. This year, the company unveiled another innovative sustainable packaging for its beverages—a new plastic bottle made partially from plants. The “PlantBottle” is made from a blend of petroleum-based materials and up to 30% plant-based materials. The new bottle is 100% recyclable and can reduce carbon emissions by up to 25%.
Coca-Cola’s packaging initiative extends beyond its own products. In January of this year, the company has awarded a $400,000 grant to Michigan State University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources for the development of a Center for Packaging Innovation and Sustainability, which will serve as a research and development facility focused on measuring and reducing the environmental impact of packaging.
The company has made other efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and become self-sustaining in the future. In 2005, Coca-Cola was among the first companies to join the Global Greenhouse Gas Register of the World Economic Forum, and was recognized by the Carbon Disclosure Project as one of the most-improved company responses. The Carbon Disclosure Project is the largest corporate greenhouse gas emissions database in the world. Coca-Cola has also adopted the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the result of a decade-long partnership between the World Resources Institutes and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development that helps governments and businesses to quantify and manage greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2007, Coca-Cola also decided to implement energy-efficiency measures at its two-million-square foot headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. The company intended to reduce energy consumption by 23% and water usage by nearly 15%, resulting to savings in excess of $1 million in annual operation costs and the prevention of more than 10,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year—the equivalent of taking off 2,000 vehicles from the road.
Coca-Cola has collaborated with Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute in implementing these measures. Coca-Cola has invested approximately $3 million for the installation of energy-efficient lighting and air conditioning equipment, rainwater harvesting techniques, and advanced irrigation control systems in its world headquarters.
- Natassia Y. Laforteza