Coca-Cola, nachhaltig, Klimaschutz, Plastikmüll

How sustainable is a beverage maker really?

When controlling the climate BASIC thinking we put corporate sustainability strategies to the test. How sustainable and eco-friendly are these concepts really? This time: Beverage manufacturer Coca Cola.

Whether it’s Fanta cooling water, Capri-Sonne or Appollinaris on a hot summer day: many of us still reach for one of the Coca-Cola Company’s many soft drinks. And often without realizing the role society plays in global climate change.

Last year, the group was repeatedly named as a leading player among producers of plastic waste worldwide. statistics According to Coca-Cola, it was the company that caused the most plastic in the world with 19,826 pieces of plastic found. All in all 5.49 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions was also produced by the group in 2021.

The soft drink maker has been public more than once for its contribution to the global plastic crisis criticized. But what is Coca-Cola doing to be more sustainable? And does the company really fulfill its promises?

This is Coca-Cola’s climate concept

In response to public criticism, Coca-Cola introduced its first environmental team as early as 1980. In 2013, a sustainability concept called “Climatic action“. The company initially focuses on its own CO2 footprint. The goal at the time was to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.

And Coca-Cola even achieved this goal. However, the overall situation improved only slightly. Because the group still produced around 5.24 million tons of CO2 per year. And the producer of soft drinks probably already suspected that the measures would not be enough in the eyes of the public.

The company therefore set more ambitious goals in 2019 and wants to reduce its own emissions by 25 percent by 2030. By 2050, emissions should even be close to zero.

What sustainability measures does Coca-Cola want to take?

If you look at the Climate Action Plan, you will find a website that appears to be very well organized. However, specific plans can only be found after extensive searching. Because, first of all, readers are confronted with endless protests about how important it is to protect the climate.

The group keeps repeating that Coca-Cola has been working with scientists on strategies to do this. You can find a handful of information on the subpage. Coca-Cola focuses on the following areas in which various measures to reduce the carbon footprint are presented:

  • packaging
  • cooling
  • ingredient a
  • production and distribution


Basically, Coca-Cola plans to reduce the weight of its containers and use more recycled materials. The result should be packaging with an overall lower carbon content.

The beverage manufacturer is also striving for a circular economy. The aim is to help in the fight against plastic waste by collecting all bottles and cans and using them to make new packaging.


New refrigerators do not contain HFCs. This means that the cooling technology is climate-friendly and contains no fluorocarbons. Highly efficient systems have even been awarded “Energy Star”. This is a seal for particularly energy-efficient electronic devices.

And indeed: In a 2013 statement praised by the environmental organization Greenpeace Coca-Cola’s commitment as it committed to phasing out refrigerators containing HFCs “after several years of wrangling”.


When it comes to ingredients, Coca-Cola is primarily concerned with using less water. For this, the company cooperates with agricultural suppliers. Their practices are designed to protect the land and watershed.

This measure is intended to enable the natural ecosystem to bind carbon and at the same time increase resistance to temperature fluctuations.

In addition, Coca-Cola supports what it calls a “farm-to-market supply chain management program.” With its help, farmers should be able to determine their own impact on energy consumption, water quality and soil carbon, for example.

production and distribution

Carbon is also to be saved in Coca-Cola’s production facilities and vehicle fleets. The company bets on fuel-efficient vehicles and invests in renewable energy sources.

These measures sound relatively good on paper – but only on paper. And here begins the continuous stream of criticism that the company has to deal with.

Coca-Cola sued for greenwashing

The famous paper bottle just a prototype

Despite all efforts to create a good image for Coca-Cola, negative news prevails. For example, the company has repeatedly been in the spotlight for various greenwashing campaigns.

For example, a beverage manufacturer advertised in April 2021 paper bottle. 100% recyclable and made from sustainable wood sources – that’s how it should be prototype Behind me. However, it quickly became clear that Coca-Cola had not yet seriously considered how the prototype could become a production model.

A bottle is fully recyclable only if it is disassembled into individual parts and the necessary technology is available. The question of whether the group simply no longer wants to accept returnable bottles is still under discussion.

Sea plastic bottles just a publicity stunt?

Real investigation The Changing Markets Foundation revealed Coca-Cola as one of many companies that talk a lot when it comes to sustainability.

The group has spent millions promoting the innovation, which says the bottles are made from 25 percent ocean plastic. But not a word is mentioned about the fact that most of the plastic waste in the sea ended up there primarily through Coca-Cola.

In June 2021 sued the NGO Earth Island Institute group because it markets itself globally as sustainable and environmentally friendly, but is also the world’s largest plastic polluter. And also German aid for environmental protection expands the group of those who criticize Coca-Cola for this very greenwashing.

Evaluation: Does Coca-Cola act sustainably?

According to their own information in the German Sustainability Report 2021 Coca-Cola was included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the sixth time. This makes the group one of the leading companies in its sector when it comes to sustainability. The soft drink bottler also suggests that he Cooperation with environmental organizations such as WWF has interest.

However, Greenpeace will restart the company in 2021 They are among the biggest polluters of plastic in the world and mentions the well-known “Climate Action” plan. It has little impact on society’s plastic pollution.

And not only plastic waste is Coca-Cola’s stone in the company’s shoe. By the way, the company also gets into the headlines with this attempt increasingly rare groundwater is bottled for sale.

Wanting to reduce the level of emissions of one’s own production is certainly a noble goal. But the question remains: can these efforts really offset the millions of plastic bottles that Coca-Cola still puts into circulation every day? Objectively speaking, the answer is “no”.

Because plans, tests and external communication are only one side of the coin. And a sustainable plan alone is not enough to save the world from climate catastrophe. This also requires sustainable measures. And maybe they should start with a trip by Coca-Cola management to the beach where everyone can collect a few plastic bottles.

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