Coca-Cola is denying greenwashing accusations after a Danish consumer ombudsman released a report criticizing how the company markets its environmentally friendly PlantBottle, partially made from plant materials, Daily Finance reports.
Henrik Saugmandsgaard Oe, the Danish ombudsman, gave the International Business Times a translated copy of the report, which says the Coca-Cola marketing does not represent a true and balanced impression. The report says Coke has not backed up its claims about PlantBottle’s reduced carbon footprint with the required documentation.
Coke defends its sustainable packaging and and says it did seek third-party authentication to preempt such accusations. The company told Daily Finance that it sought verification from third-parties such as the Imperial College of London, where a biologist performed a life-cycle analysis of the bottle and reported that the packaging reduced the CO2 impact by 12 percent to 19 percent. A Michigan State University professor also confirmed PlantBottle’s green benefits.
The bottle is made of plant-based material instead of petroleum — but the plant-based material differs in quantity depending on where the bottle is sold. In Denmark, Coke says the bottle contains up to 15 percent plant-based material. Oe’s office says that is not sufficient to name the bottle PlantBottle and has asked the company to revise is marketing literature, the Times reports.
Oe’s office followed up on a complaint filed by Danish environmental group Forests of the World, which objected to verbiage in Coke’s marketing campaign during the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Summit. But Coke’s general manager for the PlantBottle program says the verbiage was to position its product for the conference when it first debuted, and that it has changed its wording since then, when marketing it globally.
In July, the company committed to reducing the carbon footprint of “the drink in your hand” by 25 percent, compared to 2010 levels, by 2020. It says this is the first-ever goal targeting the entire Coca-Cola end-to-end value chain, cutting CO2 across its manufacturing processes, packaging formats, delivery fleet, refrigeration equipment and ingredient sourcing. Coca-Cola says this will directly and indirectly prevent the release of 20 million metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Assessing the performance of PlantBottle is part of this broader strategy.
Coke, along with Japanese chemical giant Toray Industries, is also supporting renewable chemicals firm Gevo, which opened a demonstration-scale paraxylene plant in Silsbee, Texas last month. Paraxylene is a key building block for renewable, non-petroleum derived PET beverage bottles and other applications. Gevo reached an agreement with Coke back in 2011 to supply renewable para-xylene for the beverage giant’s bottles.