Activists Try to Shake Up Coke Over Olympic Refrigeration

Activists Try to Shake Up Coke Over Olympic Refrigeration

Environmental watchdogs are crying foul over a major Olympic sponsor’s plans to install ozone-depleting refrigeration stands at the world’s first “Green Games.”

According to Greenpeace, software giant Coca-Cola is undermining the environmental guidelines of the Sydney, Australia 2000 Olympic Games by employing hydrofluorocarbons, a greenhouse gas, in its on-site refrigeration systems.

HFCs and chlorofluorocarbons, another refrigerant, are known to deplete atmospheric ozone. HFCs will cool more than 10 million Coca-Cola drinks during the Sydney Olympics.

"Coca-Cola has had seven years to take the initiative and place environmentally friendly refrigeration at the Olympic site in line with the Environmental Guidelines," said Greenpeace Olympics campaigner Corin Millais. "Instead Coca-Cola will continue its polluting practice of using HFC and undermining the Green Games. Coca-Cola's global refrigerant policy is intensifying the global climate crisis."

According to Millais, Sydney, Australia, won its Olympic bid in 1993 in part because the city promised something new: the world's first Green Games, a showcase of global environmental responsibility. A key element of the Sydney plan was a set of environmental guidelines that state that all Olympic site refrigeration should be HFC-free.

For its part, Coca-Cola maintains that alternative refrigerants such as Greenfreeze are impractical for widespread use. According to Coca-Cola’s Web site, which addresses the refrigerant controversy on its home page:

“(The) equipment is not currently commercially available in most of the equipment sizes that meet the needs of the beverage industry. It is important to point out that a number of governments, including the U.S., have yet to approve use of HCs in beverage marketing and sales equipment.”

At the Olympic site in Sydney, Coca-Cola reportedly will have 1,700 refrigerators with HFCs and 100 Greenfreeze coolers that comply with Sydney's environmental guidelines.