Coca-Cola Sips Less Water and Energy, Boosts Recycling

Coca-Cola Sips Less Water and Energy, Boosts Recycling

Image CC licensed by Flickr user TheChristianAlert.org

High-performance lighting retrofits at more than 300 Coca-Cola Enterprises' (CCE) facilities over the last few years has helped the soft drink maker halve its lighting-related energy use.

CCE also installed solar light pipes and tested new exterior lighting in parking lots in a bid to further curtail its energy consumption. Its efforts are paying off: The company's various lighting projects helped CCE cut energy consumption by 127 million kilowatt hours in 2009, avoiding the equivalent of some 80,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

These and other cost- and energy-saving measures in its fleets, equipment, and buildings reduced CCE's carbon footprint by 10 percent between 2008 and 2009, and by 11.5 percent since 2007, the company said in its 2009 Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report.

CCE also reduced the amount of water it takes to produce each liter of product, improved facility recycling rates, and reduced packaging materials through a lightweighting initiative. But the company's efforts are not without challenges: limited supplies of various materials make it difficult to increase recycled content of some packaging, while a lack of recycling infrastructure in certain parts of the U.S. poses an obstacle for increasing recycling rates for its products.

Still, the company appears to be making progress on its five 2020 goals, which include: reduce its overall carbon footprint by 15 percent by 2020, relative to a 2007 baseline; make its operations "water sustainable" by minimizing consumption and replenishing the amount it uses to local communities; reduce packaging impacts and recover the equivalent of 100 percent of its products; help consumers make informed beverage decisions; and create a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Here are some of the highlights for CCE's progress on its environmentally focused 2020 goals:

• Energy consumption from refrigeration, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the company's overall carbon footprint, fell 4 percent in 2009 by taking inefficient models out of service, retrofitting existing machines, using energy management devices, and introducing new coolers and vending machines that are 50 percent more efficient than models purchased 10 years ago.

• In addition to boosting its fleet of hybrid electric delivery trucks to 336 from 120, CCE is also increasing rail shipments, setting maximum speed limits, introducing driver education programs, and expanding backhauling arrangements in Europe to reduce the number of empty trucks on the road.

• CCE lowered the amount of water it takes to make a liter of product to 1.67, down from 1.73 in 2008 and 1.77 in 2007. The company wants to reduce this water use ratio to 1.3 liters of water per liter of beverage by 2020.

• CCE spent $17.1 million in 2009 on packaging and recycling efforts in support of its 2020 goal. Lightweighting helped to reduce packaging by 72,500 metric tons, putting it on track to reduce packaging materials by 100,000 metric tons between 2008 and 2010. It also introduced the PlantBottle, made from up to 30 percent plant-based materials.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user TheChristianAlert.org.