Coca-Cola company recently announced that all coolers and vending machines provided by Coca-Cola for the Beijing 2008 Olympic games were “green.” More than 5,600 “eKOfresh” units are free of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the greenhouse gases commonly used as refrigerants and as blowing agents in insulation foam. Some potent HFCs are 11,700 times more harmful than CO2 emissions.
As part of the company’s effort to reduce the environmental impact of refrigeration, it has been working to cut emissions from both the refrigerant gas and the insulation foam used in the cooling system. The company has also made refrigeration equipments more energy efficient with its proprietary technology, which Coke says improves the energy efficiency of a cooler or vendor by up to 35 percent. In the past year the company has placed about one million EMS units around the world.
The 5,600 eKOfresh units were expected to reduce about 4,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, the equivalent of removing 19,000 cars off the road for two weeks.
Over the past eight years, Coke has invested nearly $40 million in research, development, testing and deployment of sustainable refrigeration equipment and has identified carbon dioxide as a suitable natural refrigerant. The company plans to expand its worldwide number of coolers and vending machines running on CO2 to more than 100,000 over the next three years.
Coke does face a major hurdle: independent bottlers don’t want to pay extra for HFC-free units and manufacturers don’t want to spend the necessary money to retool production lines in order to produce them in bulk.
In the company’s third CRS report released in July, Coca-Cola said it has achieved its target of a three percent improvement in water use ratio over the previous year, using 1.77 liters of water to produce one liter of product.
According to Coca-Cola Amatil, the company’s bottling facility in Australia has become the most water-efficient bottler in Coke’s global system.