During the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, which occur Nov. 30 through Dec. 11, Coca-Cola Journey is publishing a series of climate-focused business articles and providing updates of our participation in events connected to the climate negotiations.

 

When I reach for a Coca-Cola, I think about much more than how good it’s going to taste. I think about the refrigeration equipment working to keep that beverage cold. That’s because my job is to help Coca-Cola achieve more sustainable refrigeration through our eKOfreshment program.

With around 10 million pieces of refrigeration equipment in use across the Coca-Cola system, refrigeration is the largest source of our carbon emissions footprint. This equipment includes vending machines, coolers and fountain machines. Because of the high global warming potential of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), short-lived climate pollutants used largely in refrigeration systems, we set a goal for all new cold drink equipment to be HFC-free across our global system by 2015. We’re well on our way to meeting our goal, but have a ways to go.

We’ve introduced more than 1.5 million HFC-free coolers and vending machines into the marketplace. About 40 percent of these coolers are CO2-based. CO2 has 1,430 times less global warming potential than typical HFC refrigerant gas. CO2-refrigerated equipment has been active for almost a decade and proven reliable, with a lower lifetime cost.

With an investment of more than $100 million in research and commercialization initiatives, CO2-powered coolers are helping pave the way to a greener future. We have certified 264 cooler models as meeting our performance standards. More than three-quarters of these certified models are more energy efficient than legacy models, and 60 percent have a higher cooling capacity.

In some markets, more than 75 percent of our cooling system purchases are HFC-free. But higher costs and difficulty in sourcing HFC-free equipment in certain countries have hindered our progress. We have also faced challenges developing HFC-free coolers in certain categories, such as countertop units.

In October 2015, we issued a letter to Coca-Cola presidents, technical directors, R&D general managers and procurement directors restating our commitment to becoming HFC-free. All new cold drink equipment purchases will be HFC-free and have lower energy consumption than legacy models by 2020. While reaching our goal will take longer than anticipated, we remain committed to getting there.

Reinforcing this continued commitment, leading up to COP21, we signed on to two climate leadership initiatives set through Climate Disclosure Project (CDP) and We Mean Business, one of which is to reduce short-lived climate pollutant emissions (the other is to participate in the low carbon technology partnerships initiative).

And during COP21, Coca-Cola’s work to introduce and expand HFC-free refrigeration globally will be recognized by The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF). When our Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent served as co-chair of the CGF, he helped catalyze the Forum’s global goal in 2010 to start phasing out HFC refrigerants as of 2015.

Earlier this year, our dedication to sustainable refrigeration was recognized with the government-backed Minister of the Environment Award in Japan, where Coca-Cola began installing HFC-free vending machines in 2005. By the end of 2014, in Japan, about half of our vending machines for canned and PET-bottle drinks had been replaced with HFC-free equipment.

Sustainable refrigeration is one of several climate protection efforts underway at Coca-Cola. Our eKOfreshment program supports our system goal to reduce the carbon footprint of the “drink in your hand” by 2020—a goal that requires working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across our entire value chain by making comprehensive changes in our manufacturing processes, packaging formats, delivery fleet, refrigeration equipment and ingredient sourcing.

At Coca-Cola, we understand that climate change may impact both our direct business and supply chain. We’re focused on using the best possible mix of energy sources, while improving the energy efficiency of our manufacturing and distribution. Clever CO2 coolers are an important contribution toward this goal. For me, and hopefully our consumers, they make reaching for that beverage feel twice as good.

Tomas Ambrosetti eKOfreshment global program director at The Coca-Cola Company

Read our entire series of COP21 articles.