Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have recently announced
achievements and initiatives toward combating climate change. Now
that a large number of consumers are more likely to purchase environmentally
friendly products, companies are battling for the top spots on everyone’s
eco-friendly lists. Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are trying to one-up
each other in this “Anything you can do, I can do greener”
bout of environmentalism. However, the methods that these major
companies have chosen to “green” themselves with are
PepsiCo jumped on the “green” bandwagon earlier than
Coca-Cola by purchasing its first renewable energy certificates
(RECs) in April 2007. This step propelled the company to the head
of the list of U.S. green power buyers. Pepsi will buy more than
1.1 billion kilowatt-hours of renewable energy over the next three
years, which is enough to offset the electricity use of all of its
U.S. manufacturing, distribution and administrative offices.
PepsiCo North America’s chief executive officer, John Compton,
said that energy is a key focus of PepsiCo’s environmental
sustainability agenda. “The purchase of these RECs is not
only in line with our progress to date, but further advances our
commitment to sustainability,” he said. As a result of these
initiatives, PepsiCo now tops the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency’s quarterly list of America’s 25 greenest energy
users, a position that grants the company marketing leverage over
Another environmental initiative of PepsiCo is its commitment to
green building. The company’s 950,000 square foot Gatorade
facility in Wytheville, Va., has received a gold level Leadership
in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certificate from the U.S.
Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED promotes a whole-building approach
to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of
human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water
savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental
“By constructing its new manufacturing facilities to LEED
standards, Gatorade and its parent company PepsiCo have demonstrated
a strong commitment to the green building program — and to
the long-term goals of conserving energy and protecting the environment,”
said Rich Fedrizzi of the USGBC. “The Gatorade and PepsiCo
model is one we hope other industries will follow.”
Coca-Cola has chosen to embark on a very different path to sustainability.
On June 5, 2007, the Coca-Cola Company announced a new commitment
to replace the water used in its beverages and their production.
The company will:
• Reduce the amount of water it uses to make its beverages.
• Recycle the water used in production processes such as rinsing,
cleaning, heating and cooling.
• Replenish water by expanding support of initiatives that
protect, conserve and improve access to water in communities around
On its Web site, Coca-Cola explained its decision to focus on sustainable
water use practices. “We want to sustain our business and
therefore, we need to be careful with our resources and use them
efficiently,” said Bruce Karas, the Coca-Cola North America’s
director of Environmental Programs, Workplace Health and Safety.
The company plans to preserve water resources by using it more efficiently
and ensuring that every gallon of water used will make a gallon
of product. With 1.3 billion people around the world without access
to safe drinking water, and projections that by 2025, an estimated
one-third of the world’s population will face severe and chronic
water shortages, Coca-Cola is committed to doing its part to protect
and preserve water resources.
Coca-Cola is also making the packaging of its product more sustainable.
Coca-Cola beverages are consumed more than 1.3 billion times a day,
and because of this demand, environmentally responsible packaging
is now being used. Coca-Cola has sought to advance the development
of a recycling-based society and design consumer-preferred, resource-effective
packaging, to encourage recovery and reuse. Part of Coca-Cola’s
packaging initiative has been to use sustainable bulk packaging
systems such as refillable steel tanks or the bag-in-box (BIB).
BIBs and steel tanks now make up 12 percent of Coca-Cola’s
global volume distribution. The standard five-gallon BIB container
consists of recyclable cardboard and a light-weight, five-gallon
plastic syrup bag that produces 30 gallons of product when mixed
with local water.
Coca-Cola has made other efforts toward becoming environmentally
responsible and self-sustaining in the future. In 2005, Coca-Cola
was one of the first companies to join the Global Greenhouse Gas
Register of the World Economic Forum. The company also adopted the
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol, a joint initiative of the World Business
Council for Sustainable Development, and the World Resources Institute,
which aims to harmonize GHG accounting and reporting standards.
In 2005, Coca-Cola was acknowledged as one of the most-improved
company responses by the Carbon Disclosure Project, a world registry
of corporate GHG emissions made available to institutional investors
concerned about corporate climate policies.
Few organizations have the global reach of PepsiCo and Coca-Cola.
Hopefully, the companies’ historic rivalry will generate further
tangible results in combating climate change.