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COCA COLA and Ozone Depleting Refrigeration

Coca ColaThe logo is probably the most universally recognised for any global brand - the curving lines that spell CocaCola.

But for several weeks in 2000 it began to look a bit different when environmentalists and AdBusters launched a campaign to press the company to live up to the “green” ambitions of the Sydney Olympic Games where Coca Cola was a major sponsor. In a series of humorous “dummy” advertisements and in several protests the logo changed to spell Climate Change.

The focus of the campaign was Coca Cola’s use of ozone-damaging hydrofluorocarbons (HFC’s) in itsrefrigeration units. The campaigners argued that as a massive global business they should stop using them and adopt alternative cooling systems. Coca Cola were not alone in using HFCs, they had been ubiquitous in commercial refrigerators. But as the world’s media were preparing to descend on Sydney, Coca Cola became a major target.

Realising the potential for negative publicity at the Olympics, the Corporation committed to buying non-HFC refrigerators whenever commercial alternatives existed by the next Games in Athens 2004.

It was a prudent move that avoided making promises that could not be delivered, but clearly signalled its concern for the environment. It was also a rapid response to the pressure they were beginning to feel, but headed off more serious damage to their image. It also allowed Coca Cola to legitimately use the policy as evidence of its commitment to protecting the environment and its ambition to continually move toward sustainability.

Coca Cola today has a clear CSR policy that covers social as well as environmental issues and an Environmental Management System known as ecosystem.

Article by Rod Macrae, Macrae Media & Communication

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