When it comes to carbon footprint, packaging matters most. That has to be the largest lesson from a study by Coca-Cola of its carbon footprint in the UK market.
A 330ml can of Coke sold in Great Britain accounts for a carbon footprint of 170 grams. A can of diet Coke or Coke Zero leaves a footprint of 150 grams, according to the company.
By contrast, a 330ml glass bottle of Coke has a footprint of 360 grams, or more than twice the impact of selling the product in a can.
The research shows how packaging accounts for 30-70 percent of the drink’s carbon footprint, according to The Business Insider. The article notes that producing and marketing a can of coke produces less CO2 than driving a mile in a Prius.
Coca-Cola already incorporates much recycled content in its UK packaging. Its aluminum cans are about 50% recycled content and its glass bottles contain about 40% recycled glass. For all of Europe, the company aims for its plastic (PET) bottles to be 25% recycled by 2011.
Additionally, in the UK, Coca-Cola is encouraging consumers to recycle throughout the course of the day by launching a nationwide sereis of branded Recycle Zones, in partnership with WRAP, the Waste & Resources Action Program.
European news sources are seizing on the Coca-Cola report to compare the soft drink’s carbon footprint to that of Innocent Drinks, which makes popular smoothie drinks in the UK. The Guardian’s article notes that a Coke can’s carbon footprint of 170 grams compares favorably to Innocent’s 250ml bottle of mango and passion fruit smoothie, which has a carbon footprint of 209 grams. One blogger notes that it isn’t an apples to apples comparison.
And there are varying levels of sustainability involved in the carbon footprint. Innocent Drinks uses 100 percent recycled bottles (compared to Coke’s goal of 25 percent), according to Innocent’s Corporate Social Responsibility Report.
However, Innocent was roundly accused of greenwashing after releasing the report, when it was revealed not all of its ingredients are locally sourced or processed.
Download Innocent Drinks’ CSR report here.