10 Things You Didn't Know About Coca‑Cola's Sustainability History
Sustainability is not something new at The Coca‑Cola Company. The Company’s sustainability efforts cover a wide range of topics including the following: water, women, community well-being, sustainable packaging, climate protection, human and workplace rights, and sustainable agriculture.
Such efforts began over 100 years ago and have since become an integral part of the Company. While there are countless sustainability projects and initiatives started by the Company, there are some monumental moments that have helped shape the company’s efforts. These efforts are highlighted in this timeline of events.
The Coca‑Cola Company began its partnership with The Red Cross. During World War I, the Coca‑Cola system ran annual Red Cross drive campaigns which continued for over a decade. This partnership remains strong today and has been essential to the company’s involvement in disaster relief throughout the years.
Lettie Pate Evans joined the Board of Directors as the 1st woman to serve on the board of a major company.
The Coca‑Cola Company produced its first diet drink, Tab. Tab was introduced before the early growth of the low-calorie soft drink segment, and the beverage was developed for consumers who wished “to keep tab on their calories.” Several women chemists played a critical role in the development of Tab.
The Coca‑Cola Company launched “The Nutrition Project”, assigning an international team of scientists and food technologists the task of finding a solution to the “protein gap” facing the impoverished nations of the world and provide more light, protein-rich beverages to consumers. This project led to the introduction of the brands Saci, Sanson and Taí, three protein-rich energy beverages developed in Latin America, utilizing the local ingredients such as soybeans and whey as protein source ingredients for the beverages.
The Coca‑Cola Foundation was founded. The Coca‑Cola Company is committed to giving back 1 percent of its prior year’s operating income annually through the foundation. The foundation serves three priority areas: women, water and well-being.
The Coca‑Cola Company established the Coca‑Cola Africa Foundation, which has worked to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS in Africa. Since it was established, the Coca‑Cola Africa Foundation has launched numerous projects and initiatives throughout Africa.
The Coca‑Cola Company announced a transformational partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to address challenges related to freshwater conservation. This partnership focused on five core areas including the following: conserve seven of the world’s most important freshwater basins, improve water efficiency within the company’s operations, reduce the company’s carbon emissions, promote sustainable agriculture and inspire a global movement to conserve water.
The Coca‑Cola Company introduces PlantBottle Packaging - the first ever recyclable PET plastic beverage bottle made 30 percent from plants. The Coca‑Cola Company has continued to develop sustainable packaging, including the creation of the world’s first prototype PET bottle made entirely from plant materials in 2015.
The Coca‑Cola Company launched the 5by20 Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to enable the economic empowerment of 5 million women entrepreneurs across the globe by 2020. Through the initiative, women are offered access to business skills training courses, financial services and connections with peers or mentors.
The first EKOCENTER is established. EKOCENTER is a modular community market that is run by local woman entrepreneurs and provides safe drinking water, wireless communication, electricity and other functionality to jump-start entrepreneurship opportunities and community development. The 100th EKOCENTER was opened in 2016 and the project continues to grow around the globe. This project also complements the 5by20 initiative that was launched in 2010.
The Coca‑Cola Company’s sustainability efforts and goals continue to develop as the years go on and their impact can be found across the globe. Within the last 5 years, the Coca‑Cola Company has launched new initiatives and achieved many goals, such as accomplishing its 100 percent water replenishment goal five years ahead of schedule.
The company will not stop once it has accomplished a goal; it creates new initiatives and works to create a bigger impact. The history of sustainability in the Coca‑Cola Company is an indication of how far the Company has come and how much farther it can go in the future.