The sustainability in action case study for this essay is carried out using Coca-Cola as a company by analysing its sustainability and environmental management techniques and how it relates to the environment and impacts which they mean to address as a multinational organization.


The new “Live Positively” business guiding principle layout by The Coca-Cola Company worldwide assesses that consideration about the global environment must be interpreted into action. To the Coca-Cola system, environmental initiatives are a vital passport to getting sustainable growth together with the community. In order to please this fundamental requirement, they are working to make valuable use of the restricted resources available, reducing environmental impact during production, distribution and sales, mainly with regard to water, energy, waste and packaging. They are working to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from more than 10 million vending machines and coolers through the installation of HFC-free systems and intelligent energy management devices.

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The Coca-Cola system has defined principles for each of the core areas and has set

Sustainability in action case study on Coca-Cola

Actions to reduce environmental impact

In 2009, by engagement with Greenpeace, the Coca-Cola System pledged to change to a 100 percent HFC-free equipment to be used in new coolers and vending machines by the end of 2015. As a result of the commitment to eradicate the use of HFCs in refrigeration equipment, carbon emission reductions are forecasted to exceed 52.5 million metric tons during the life of the equipment the equivalent of taking over 11 million cars off the road annually. In September 2010, the Coca-Cola Company made available 127,191 units of HFC-free refrigeration systems in 2010 for a total of more than 240,000 units placed since 2006. In addition to HFC-free refrigeration, there has been an installation of more than 3.1 million intelligent energy management devices that lower energy consumption by overseeing energy use in refrigeration units.

The Company also has invested more than $60 million in research and development to improve the use of climate-friendly cooling technologies. As an independent effort to conserve energy and reduce consumption of resources such as water, packaging and raw materials in all business processes. For instance, in 2008 the implementation of environmentally-friendly ecoru/E40 vending machines that utilizes HFC-free refrigerants, realizing about 40% less energy consumption.

Works are also being done on the effective usage of resources and CO2 reductions by reducing the weight of containers. An example of “collaborative efforts” done together with stakeholders, the Coca-Cola system in Japan joined with Lawson, Inc. in 2008 in launching carbon offset products, which come with CO2 emissions credits. This action allowing consumers to contribute to global warming prevention activities just by purchasing the products during routine shopping visits was a first for the Japanese soft drink industry and will be continued. The impact map in the appendix 1.0 shows a brief agenda of the actions required.

Reducing emissions by using lower carbon energy sources

There has been a continual search for ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using renewable energy resources. A number of our bottling partners are equipped with solar panels on their bottling facilities to help limit energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The solar panels hold sunlight across a 360-degree surface, changing light energy into electricity. Several valuable investments are being made in biodiesel and wind power generation technologies, among other actions.

The Coca -Cola Amatil Limited’s distribution centre in New South Wales, Australia, generates 148 megawatt hours of clean, renewable energy yearly. This is the same as reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 148 metric tons per year. Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc installed state of the art solar panels some facilities in Macon, Georgia, and Coachella, California. They are expecting to save about 70,000 kilowatt hours of energy in the first year. Coca-Cola Hellenic’s advanced energy-saving production plant in Romania makes use of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technology, which will decrease yearly CO2 emissions across its operations by more than 20 percent. The new CHP technology supplies very efficient, clean electricity as well as heat and cooling for the facility. This CHP technology installation is one of over 15 that Coca-Cola Hellenic plans to initiate in its facilities in about 12 countries by 2020.

Improving energy efficiency and climate protection

The change in global climate is partly caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions, which have several implications for the planet and the surrounding communities where they function, the water resources, agriculture, and public health and more are generally at risk. The Coca-Cola system recognizes that climate change has the capacity to significantly impact the sustainability within a business and its supply chains. Increased focus is placed on energy efficiency and climate protection to help minimize costs and reduce the general environmental implications.

Based on the size and level of the global system in place with over 900 bottling plants, a fleet of roughly 200,000 delivery vehicles and more than 10 million vending machines and coolers, the efforts to improve energy efficiency and decrease carbon emissions is essential. During the producing and distributing of products, the target is to use the best possible mix of energy supplies while advancing the total energy use and efficiency, the commitment to effectively tracking and handling carbon emissions by taking the necessary actions to do so as a system. Meanwhile investing in renewable energy resources where they may be required in the business, making decisions which better the overall energy use and efficiency of facilities.

A commitment to reducing the footprint on the environment at large by improving energy efficiency per litre of product produced and working to stabilize emissions in all locations world-wide. In 2008, working with World-wide Wildlife(WWF), the Coca-Cola system set global targets for energy management and climate protection within all manufacturing operations to attain a 5 percent absolute emissions reduction in developed countries and business growth without increasing carbon emissions by 2015.

Recycling water in our operations

All excess water substances used for manufacturing process is recycled so that it can be sent back into the environment at a level that supports aquatic life. The system is carried out through a stringent water treatment process before it is sent back into the environment. In 2009 about 89 billion litres of treated wastewater was released back into the environment. Significant challenges in the system have caused setbacks in the achieving of 100 percent compliance. Efforts are being made to make all plants compliant in the next few years. The installation of recycle and reclaim loops has been installed in about 12 Coca-Cola water treatment systems in North America and Europe. The loops allow these facilities to reuse recycle water in their processes. The aim is to equip about 30 facilities with these loops by the year 2012.

Source of water protection

Water is a global challenge for Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola reported water quality and quantity as a material risk factor in 2003 (Business for Social Responsibility, 2008) and has been in such a circumstance before. Especially, their bottling plant in Kerala, India, which lost its license to function in 2004 when the company was charged for using an unfair proportion of the local community’s natural water reserves (The Guardian, 2003). To improve the management of water resources for the Coca-Cola system’s manufacturing operations, a general standard has been put forward. This standard requires each of the 900 bottling plants to analyse the sustainability of all water resources being used to produce their beverages, as well as the sustainability of the water resources used by the surrounding community. It also requires identifying all related water risks at the plant level and steps to minimize such risks.

Making sustainable packaging

Packaging in general plays a vital part in meeting consumer needs. It is the face of the Coca-Cola brands world-wide, and it safeguards the superiority of all products when delivered to a consumer. With roughly 85 percent of its volume dispatched in recyclable bottles and cans, the focus on all packages is to offer more value with less material, using more renewable and recyclable materials. Today’s packaging goals focus on three priority areas for effectively preventing waste: optimizing packaging efficiency; increasing the use of renewable and recycled materials; and eliminating waste to landfills through recycling.

Increasing renewable and recycled material

Over 50 percent of all beverage volume today is distributed using PET plastic bottles. The additional value derived by shatter-resistant, lightweight and reseal-able plastic bottles has made it more preferred by consumers word-wide. Efficiency advancements in manufacturing and transport, combined with high recyclability, also have helped make PET plastic bottles a sound environmental choice. To meet this challenge, there has been a constant push by the Coca-Cola Company and its bottling partners to find innovative ways to improve, by working towards the elimination of non-renewable fossil fuels in plastic bottles while maintaining quality and recyclability.

Investing in recycling programs

The world-wide goal is to recover the equivalent of 50 percent of the bottles and cans which are sold around the world yearly by 2015. In 2009, the Coca-Cola system reinforced the direct recovery of 36 percent of the bottles put into the market. To accomplish this long-term sustainability goal, the regaining of all beverage container materials is important. There is an active engagement around the world giving leadership and finance to help establish and grow effective recovery systems. For the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, the Coca-Cola Company was able to make its presence carbon neutral by offering 100 percent compostable beverage cups and lids, debuting the Plant Bottle packaging and activating Coca-Cola green teams in over 172 communities that collected PET containers.

Coca-Cola Argentina partners with a large-scale retail customer to make “Optimismo que Transforma” (translated as Optimism Transforms), a program to generate awareness about the importance of recycling inorganic wastes. The Coca-Cola Company is the founding sponsor of the Global Alliance for Recycling and Sustainable Development (GARSD), a network of companies, governmental agencies and NGOs created in 2007. The global alliance encourages developing, up and coming markets to adopt proven collection and recycling models.


Why not biodegradable bottles?

There should be more emphasis placed on the utilization of biodegradable packaging It is a sound choice for products which are not commercially recyclable, the process of extracting the raw materials in beverage bottles through recycling is, in my point of view, a much better option don’t you think so ? A one-use bottle is simply not a viable option for business. Plans should be made for the use of Plant Bottle packaging in every bottle sold.

Why not hybrid electric trucks?

Coca-Cola should use fuel efficient vehicles which have low CO2 emissions such hybrid electric trucks in their fleets. Hybrid vehicles are quieter than regular delivery trucks and function with 30 percent less fuel and 30 percent fewer emissions.


Water remains a high priority for the Coca-Cola system. As the main ingredient in all products made and an important part of our manufacturing processes, water is essential to the business sustainability as such it has to be taken as a factor of high value and importance. The use of certain recycling and renewable materials in the course of production will help to further decrease the environmental effects and degradation which PET bottles may pose to the habitat. The utilization of more renewable sources of energy supply is a key to the issues of emission, the investment of more resources in bio-related or renewable forms of energy supply is essential and can reduce the rate of CO2 emissions.


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