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Coca Cola’s New Sustainability Report: Commitment 2020 and the Carbon Footprint of a Diet Coke

July 24, 2009

Coca-Cola_GiveItBack_logoCoca-Cola has released its fourth company-wide Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CRS) Report, titled “Our CRS Journey…Delivering on Our Commitments.” The 48-page report announces an initiative the company is calling “Commitment 2020,” a new set of goals for its five strategic CRS focus areas.

Coca-Cola’s Commitment 2020 goals include:

Energy Conservation/Climate Change
Reduce the overall carbon footprint of the company’s business operations by 15% by 2020, as compared to a 2007 baseline.

Water Stewardship
Establish a water-sustainable operation to minimize the company’s water use and have a water-neutral impact on the local communities in which the company operates, by safely returning the amount of water equivalent to what is used in the company’s beverages and their production to these communities and their environment.

Sustainable Packaging/Recycling
Reduce the impact of packaging, maximize use of renewable, reusable, and recyclable resources, and recover the equivalent of 100% of the company’s packaging.

Product Portfolio/Well-Being
Provide refreshing beverages for every lifestyle and occasion, while helping consumers make informed beverage choices.

Diverse and Inclusive Culture
Create a culture where diversity is valued, every employee is a respected member of the team, and the company’s workforce is a reflection of the communities in which it operates.

From the report, I also learned that in 2008, Coca-Cola made a big effort to get a handle on its carbon footprint. The company analyzed the emissions of operations in each country where it does business, as well as for the corporation, as a whole. Coca-Cola’s overall footprint was approximately 6.1 million metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2007. 71% of that total is Scope 3 emissions that derive mostly from sales and marketing equipment.

Coca-Cola also partnered with the Carbon Trust to calculate the first-ever certified carbon footprint of a sparkling beverage in Great Britain. As a result, we now know that a 500mL plastic bottle of Coca-Cola has a carbon footprint of just under 250g of CO2. Interestingly, the carbon footprint of Diet Coke is slightly less because there are fewer emissions associated with the production of sugar than with artificial sweeteners. (See the full report for a chart that has other comparisons, as well: glass v. plastic bottle, Coke Zero v. Diet Coke, e.g.)

In early, 2009 Coca-Cola also calculated the carbon footprint of Dasani in the U.S. This analysis showed that a 500mL PET bottle of Dasani emits 140g of CO2.

(Remember when PepsiCo made headlines earlier this year with its calculation of the carbon footprint of Tropicana orange juice? According to their calculations, each half-gallon of orange juice emits the equivalent of 3.75 pounds of CO2.)

As a point of reference, consider that a car that gets 20 mpg emits about 1.0 pound of CO2 for each mile driven. So, the bottle of Dasani that emits about 140g (or 0.3 pounds) CO2, has roughly the same emissions as driving that 20 mpg car 0.3 miles.

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