Coca-Cola sells nearly 2.2 billion servings of its beverages every single day and those sales have a big effect on our environment.
Refrigeration represents the single largest portion of Coca-Cola’s greenhouse gas footprint, representing 30 to 35 percent of their total emissions. In recent years, Coca-Cola has tried to address this problem by switching the refrigerants used in its cooling equipment. For years, Coca-Cola largely relied on hydrofluorocarbons-HFCs—compounds that have a global warming potential that is sometimes thousands of times more than carbon dioxide. But after environmentalists raised concerns about the climate effects of these chemicals, the company began in the early 2000s to invest in new cooling equipment that used carbon dioxide as the chief refrigerant.
In time, Coca-Cola also invested in machines filled with hydrocarbons, including isobutane and propane, because these hydrocarbons had far smaller heat-trapping potential than HFCs. Yet, despite all those efforts, refrigeration remains a massive portion of Coca-Cola’s overall climate footprint, in part because coolers and refrigerators use so much energy that is often generated by burning fossil fuels.
Which raises the question: might Coke move beyond thinking about replacing refrigerants to thinking about whether they need all those refrigerating machines turned on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year on every street corner and rural road from Alabama to Zimbabwe.