When it comes to Coca-Cola and environmental responsibility, the company has been studying its impact on the community for decades.

As a company with worldwide reach, The Coca-Cola Company is serious about its approach to environmental responsibility. In 1969 the company launched its first study that examined the environmental impact of its products, and since then, Coca-Cola has continuously investigated the most cost-effective and efficient ways to reduce its environmental impact and replenish the communities where it does business.

The company currently measures and minimizes its environmental impact in several areas.

Water usage in the manufacturing process. Because water is the main ingredient in its beverages and because water is critical to the manufacturing process, Coca-Cola has several water stewardship programs. Water conservation starts in the bottling plants, with simple steps: Each individual plant is responsible for working with local governments to improve the quality of the water source, and also for measuring the plants’ own internal efficiencies.

Coca-Cola strives to treat and return 100 percent of its manufacturing water volume back to the environment, even in areas where Coca-Cola has to build and maintain its own wastewater treatment facilities. The majority of bottlers – 88 percent – met internal wastewater guidelines in 2008.

It takes about 1 1/3 liters of water to produce a 1-liter beverage (including the water used in the beverage itself), and Coca-Cola is trying to lower that amount by 10 percent by 2012.

Minimal packaging. Coca-Cola’s cans and plastic bottles are fully recyclable, and many already contain recycled materials. Plastic bottles and caps today are smaller than their original counterparts, and the new Ultra Glass bottles are lighter, stronger and less expensive than Coca-Cola’s traditional contour bottles. Coca-Cola also invested in recycling plants, including one in Spartanburg, S.C., which is the largest bottle-to-bottle recycling plant in the world.

Refrigeration and energy efficiency. Refrigeration represents the largest component to Coca-Cola’s climate footprint, but the company is working toward (and has already achieved strides in) a sustainable refrigeration program, including a 40-percent improvement in energy efficiency as a result of a customized energy-management system.

The company is also phasing out hydrofluorocarbons in all its new equipment by 2015. On a broader scale, the company co-founded the Refrigerants, Naturally! initiative, which addresses global climate changed within the food and beverage industry.

In Coca-Cola plants, basic repairs such as fixing leaks and insulating pipes added up to a 10 percent improvement in energy efficiency since 2004, notable especially since companywide growth might lead to increased energy demands in the future.

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See also:

Coca-Cola and the environment

Coca-Cola and water conservation