For over a decade, The Coca-Cola Company has invested more than $100 million in research, development and commercialization efforts to advance the use of climate-friendly, HFC-free cooling technologies along with energy efficiency (including energy management devices). Through this program (we call it ‘eKOfreshment’), we are equipped to phase out our use of HFC refrigerant—a well-known contributor to climate change—in Coca-Cola vending machines and coolers globally.

Excitedly, I can report that we have placed the 1 millionth HFC-free cooler, using natural refrigerant, in the marketplace. This marks significant progress toward our 2015 system-wide goal for all new cold-drink equipment to be HFC-free. Reaching this goal is expected to prevent the emission of more than 50 million metric tons of CO2 over 10 years—equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 10 million passenger vehicles.

The natural refrigerant we selected for our new equipment is CO2, which eliminates 99% of direct emissions. Beyond our HFC-free achievements, our investment in sustainable refrigeration has made CO2 technology a commer­cially viable option for the cold drink and food equipment industry.

That’s important because it’s going to take more than Coca-Cola to tackle challenges as grand as climate change—something we’ve long realized and why we co-founded and are active participants in organizations like Refrigerants Naturally!, an alliance our very own Antoine Azar, Sustainable Refrigeration Manager, was recently elected to chair.

And, it’s going to take more than a focus on sustainable refrigeration to meet our broader goal set by the Company to reduce the carbon footprint of "the drink in your hand” by 25 percent by 2020. This work includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the entire value chain of our products—from manufacturing processes to packaging formats to delivery fleet to ingredient sourcing and to, of course, refrigeration. One million placements are indeed worthy of a celebratory cheer but as always, there’s more work to do!

Bryan Jacob is Climate Protection Director at The Coca-Cola Company.