Coke has officially taken the lead in the ongoing sustainable cola wars with a pledge to cut hydrofluorocarbon (HFC), a potent greenhouse gas, from all vending machines and coolers by 2015. The move comes after years of haranguing by Greenpeace, which has long tried to persuade beverage companies to ditch HFC.
In order to speed the transition to HFC-free vending machines, Coke plans to buy 150,000 HFC-free units in 2010–double the current speed of replacement. The beverage giant is also investing $50 million in green alternatives to HFC refrigeration.
Coke’s move will be a big help in reaching its goal of cutting its carbon footprint 15% by 2020. The HFC-filled vending machines used by the company emit 40% of Coke’s total emissions (15 million metric tons), and the switch to clean refrigeration technology is expected to cut emissions by a whopping 53 million metric tons. That’s like taking 11 million cars off the road for a whole year.
Pepsi has a long way to go before catching up. The company launched a pilot program for CO2-cooled vending machines earlier this year, but has made no long-term commitments to HFC-free technology. Knowing the Coke vs. Pepsi rivalry, however, that probably won’t hold true for long.