In August 2017 Ethical Consumer downloaded the Coca Cola company's 2016 Sustainability Report from the company website www.coca-colacompany.com

The report contained discussion of water stewardship, packaging, sustainable agriculture, and climate protection. The company was thus felt to have a reasonable understanding of its environmental impacts.

The report contained at least two quantified dated environmental targets for 2020, including:

-Improve water efficency in manufacturing operations by 25% compared with a 2010 baseline.
-Recover and recycle the equivalent of 75% of the bottles and cans introduced into developed markets, from a 61% current recovery rate.

Ernst & Young LLP performed independent review-level assurance for the calendar year ending December 31, 2016 on selected sustainability indicators related to: Front of package labeling; Greenhouse gas emissions (manufacturing activities); Number of women enabled by the 5by20 TM Program; Responsible Marketing Policy compliance process; Water replenish; Water use ratio and Total Incident Rate.

As the Coca Cola company had an up to date environmental report which contained more than two quantified environmental targets, and contained a good discussion of its environmental impacts, but was only was partly independently verified it recieved Ethical Consumer's middle rating for Environmental Reporting.

Reference:

Coca cola website (25 July 2016)

According to the Coca-Cola website viewed in September 2017: "we have over 200,000 pieces of cooling equipment in the UK, including fridges, vending machines and dispenser systems in bars and restaurants. This refrigeration equipment is one of the largest elements of our carbon footprint and we're currently taking action to develop more climate-friendly cooling solutions."
It had a target of making all new equipment HFC-free by 2015 but it said it missed the target by 4%.
According to http://hydrocarbons21.com in 2016 it was reported that Coca-Cola was striving to be 100% HFC-free in new equipment purchases within two years (except for some speciality equipment). Currently new equipment was 65%-70% HFC-free. It therefore lost marks in the Climate Change category.

Reference:

Coca-Cola to allow hydrocarbons in smaller cooler equipment (21 June 2016)

In October 2017 Ethical Consumer viewed the website for the Monster Army, www.monsterarmy.com, which stated ‘The Monster Army is Monster Energy's athlete development program that supports athletes ages 13-21 in moto, bike, skate, surf, snow, ski and wake.’

Ethical Consumer also viewed the Kawasaki website, www.kawasaki.com, which listed four Motocross racing teams under the Monster Energy Trademark.

As a company that both participates in and promotes a highly polluting motor sport, the company lost half a mark under Ethical Consumer’s Climate Change category for its climate change impact.

As Coca-Cola had an 18% share in Monster Energy Drinks at the time of writing, they were also marked down for this.

Reference:

www.monsterbevcorp.com (4 October 2017)

According to an article on the Business and Human Rights website dated 24th April, 2016 and viewed by Ethical Consumer in July 2016, villagers in Plachimada were still protesting the lack of compensation for the pollution caused by a Coca Cola plant in Kerala.

'In March 2000, Coca Cola, under its Indian subsidiary Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Private Limited (HCCBPL), commenced operations at its bottling plant at Plachimada, in the southern state of Kerala. Over the next few years, the area surrounding the plant allegedly began to feel the plant’s hazardous effects, as groundwater was contaminated and toxic waste released. Protests by the people of Plachimada, interest groups, and NGOs lead to the shutdown of operations at the plant. 13 years later, village claims that there has been no compensation for the ecological, social and environmental losses suffered by them, "We haven't yet got clean drinking water, nor justice we sought".'

Reference:

Business and Human rights 24th April 2016 (20 July 2016)

An environmental protection bureau in China had found a Coca-Cola Company bottling facility in Gansu province had falsified pollution data, according to an article published on 22 October 2015 on the Reuters website. In north-west China, the Lanzhou city office of the Environmental Protection Bureau reported finding Gansu COFCO Coca-Cola Beverage Co Ltd had tampered with data by altering the way it sampled and monitored its sewage output. As punishment, police had detained at least one of the facility's executives for five days.

The article reported that the Gansu facility was part of a joint venture between Chinese food processor COFCO Corp and Coca-Cola. The facility said in a statement that it was treating the matter as highly important and that an internal investigation had determined that irregularities with monitoring equipment had led to false data. The company committed to strengthening "internal oversight" to ensure no recurrence.

Coca-Cola officials did not respond to repeated requests by Reuters for comment.

Companies in China had been hastily boosting their environmental credentials after China had introduced tougher regulations in 2015 to combat the unwanted image of smog-choked cities, fouled waterways and heavy-metal tainted soil. China planned to ban water-polluting paper mills, oil refineries, pesticide producers and other industrial plants by the end of 2016, in order to tackle severe pollution of the water supply.

Reference:

China environment bureau says Coca-Cola bottling plant falsified pollution data (22 October 2015)

In May 2015 Ceres produced a report called “Feeding ourselves thirsty: How the food sector is managing global water risks. A benchmark report for investors.” According to the report producing food was the most water-intensive business on earth. It stated that “seventy percent of the world’s freshwater was used to irrigate crops and raise animals” and “one-third of total food production was in areas of high or extremely high water stress, or competition.” It went on to state that the run-off of fertilizers from farm fields was one of the most common causes of “water pollution worldwide, causing dead zones, harming fisheries, affecting human health and raising water treatment costs.”
The report analysed food sector companies against actions taken in four categories of water risk management, using indicators and scoring drawn largely from the Ceres Aqua Gauge:
1) governance and management: board members with oversight of water-related issues and had a water strategy
2) direct operations: reports data on water use and wastewater discharge for direct operations; assess risks; sets standards and goals on water water use, wastewater and impacts on watersheds
3) manufacturing supply chain: assesses water risks facing manufacturing suppliers; had policies for suppliers to improve water management; incentives manufacturing suppliers to strengthen practices
4) agricultural supply chain: assess water-related risks facing key agricultural inputs and sourcing regions; had policies for suppliers to improve water management and report their water use and pollution impacts; incentives manufacturing suppliers to strengthen practices
Companies were scored on a 0-100 point scale, using publicly available information from company financial statements, corporate sustainability reports and 2014 CDP water survey responses.

The Coca-Cola Company received an overall mark in the beverage sector of 67.
It scored the following in each section:
Governance and Management – 11/25
Direct Operations – 25/30
Manufacturing Supply Chain – 16/20
Agricultural Supply Chain – 15/25
Companies which scored 20 or under in agricultural supply chain lost half a mark under Ethical Consumer's Pollution and Toxics category due to the fact “erosion of topsoil and associated fertilizer run-off, both chemical and manure, is the most significant source of agricultural water pollution.”

Reference:

Feeding ourselves thirsty: How the food sector is managing global water risks. (May 2015)

In November 2018 Ethical Consumer viewed the Costa website and saw that it sold a number of fish products that were not labelled as certified sustainable.

Ethical Consumer downloaded Costa's parent company, Whitbread's fish sourcing policy. The policy stated that the company favours Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fish where possible. It also stated that it used farmed fish, which the MSC does certify. It said that in the case of farmed fish "ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council),GlobalGAP or BAP". The policy discussed some of the standards Whitbread expects from suppliers.

It said that the company was continually trying to increase the amount of certified fish it sources.

While the company was taking steps in the right direction, Ethical Consumer felt that this clearly implied that the company was still sourcing some unsustainable fish.

Costa lost half a mark under Habitats and Resources.

Reference:

www.costa.co.uk (4 October 2018)

An article in The Guardian on 3rd November 2014 reported that local people in El Salvador's Nejapa region were often short of drinking water, due, they claimed to the presence of some of the world's largest drinks companies.
Giant drinks manufacturers, which according to the article included Coca-Cola, had set up a series of factories and warehouses in the region, bottling water and fizzy drinks for distribution across the country and export across central America.
The article stated that millions of dollars were made by major beverage businesses in Nejapa, but despite this area having one of the country’s largest aquifers, local people struggled every day to find enough clean water to drink.
Just 20km north of the capital, San Salvador, Nejapa was an ecologically critical zone in central America’s smallest and most densely populated country. Salvadoran civil society groups said it was also a prime example of how unfettered competition over limited resources had created scenes of extreme water poverty next door to water intensive industries.
By most measures, El Salvador was under extreme environmental stress: highly susceptible to natural disasters, and was often cited as the second most deforested state in Latin America after Haiti. With an estimated 90% of its surface water heavily contaminated, it was struggling with a national clean-water crisis.
The aquifer beneath Nejapa was one of the country’s largest and most important, feeding local farms, communities and much of San Salvador. An activist with the Foro del Agua (Water Forum), a broad coalition of environmental and social organisations, said companies started moving in in the late 1990s. Today, he said, almost a third of households had little or no access to water: “There are dry sources, or polluted sources.”
Local people paid $7 a month for municipal water, even though the taps had often run dry and the water that ran from them was not claimed safe to drink. Purified bottled water, such as that produced by the drinks companies in Nejapa, was out of reach for many Salvadorans.
Companies in Nejapa denied that their presence had made things worse for local communities.

Reference:

Water everywhere for profit in Nejapa, but few drops for local people to drink (3 November 2014)

In August 2017 Ethical Consumer conducted an internet search on Coca Cola for a palm oil policy.

The Coca Cola company's website www.coca-colacompany.com stated "In 2013, The Coca-Cola Company set a goal to more sustainably source 100 percent of our priority ingredients by 2020". It listed palm oil as one of the key agricultural ingredients it used to produce its products.

Coca-Cola was listed as a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil on the organisation's website, www.rspo.org, having been a member since 2015. However, it did not report figures of usage and certification. It stated "We are already purchasing RSPO-certified palm oil. We will continue to do so. Should we identify cases where palm oil-derived ingredients are from non-RSPO-certified supply, we will work to influence those suppliers, and/or re-allocate supply".

It was not clear whether all the palm ingredients the company group used were certified. Coca Cola therefore received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for palm oil.

Reference:

http://www.rspo.org/members/acop (17 August 2016)