In October 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the Coca-cola Company website for the company's environmental policy or report. The company's 2019 Business & Sustainability Report was viewed.

An environmental policy was deemed necessary to report on a company's environmental performance and set targets for reducing its impacts in the future. A strong policy would include two future, quantified environmental targets, demonstration by the company that it had a reasonable understanding of its main environmental impacts, be dated within two years and have its environmental data independently verified.

The company demonstrated a reasonable understanding of its main environmental impacts. Its 2019 Business & Sustainability Report, which was dated within two years, contained discussion of packaging, recycling, water usage and sustainable agriculture among other environmental issues. It stated that packaging accounted for 25% to 30% of the company's carbon footprint. It also discussed the importance of sustainable sourcing of ingredients. The company's 'Sustainable Agricultural Guiding Principles' Environment section discussed the company's protocols in the following areas: Water Management, Energy Management and Climate Protection, Conservation of Natural Habitats and Ecosystems, Soil Management, Crop Protection and Harvest and Postharvest Handling.

The company's 2019 Business & Sustainability Report did not appear to be independently verified.

The company had future, quantified environmental targets, including:
- To reduce total GHG emissions across the full value chain by 25% by 2030 as compared to a 2015 baseline.
- To collect and recycle a bottle or can for each one sold by 2030.
- To make 100% of packaging recyclable globally by 2025, and use at least 50% recycled material in packaging by 2030.

The company had a reasonable understanding of its main environmental impacts, an environmental report dated within two years, and several quantified and dated future environmental targets. However, the report's data did not appear to be environmentally verified.

Overall, the company received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for Environmental Reporting.

Reference:

Business & Sustainability Report 2019 (2019)

In October 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the website of The Coca-Cola Company, looking for information on what the company was doing to tackle climate change. Ethical Consumer was looking for the following:

1. For the company to discuss its areas of climate impact, and to discuss plausible ways it has cut them in the past, and ways that it will cut them in the future.
For the company to not be involved in any particularly damaging projects like tar sands, oil or aviation, to not be subject to damning secondary criticism regarding it’s climate actions.
2. For the company to report annually on its scope 1&2 greenhouse gas emissions (direct emissions by the company),
3. and to go some way towards reporting on its scope 3 emissions (emissions from the supply chain, investments and sold products).
4. For the company to have a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in line with international agreements (counted as the equivalent of at least 2.5% cut per year in scope 1&2 emissions), and to not count offsetting towards this target.

Ethical Consumer viewed the company's Business & Sustainability 2019 report. The company appeared to show a reasonable understanding of how to address its specific climate impacts. This was demonstrated in its target of reducing total GHG emissions across the full value chain by 25% by 2030 compared to 2015 levels. The report stated that this Science-Based Target aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The company also aimed to make 100% of packaging recyclable globally by 2025, and use at least 50% recycled material in packaging by 2030. Ethical Consumer searched for information about cuts to emissions that the company had already achieved. Its website stated "In 2017, it is estimated we reduced the CO2 embedded in the Coca-Cola“drink in your hand” by 19% below 2010 levels". This was calculated internally and did not appear to be externally verified. Ethical Consumer did not identify recent, verified examples of how the company had cut its emissions in the past.

A document titled "Factsheet: Action on Climate" produced by Coca-Cola European Partners PLC listed the company's CO2e emissions, however in the absence of a statement that this applied to The Coca-Cola Company in its entirety, it was assumed that this data applied only to European Partners PLC.

While the company showed a reasonable understanding of how to address its specific climate impact and had a future target in line with international agreements, as it did not appear to report CO2e emissions across the whole company it received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for carbon management and reporting and lost a whole mark under Climate Change.

Reference:

Business & Sustainability Report 2019 (2019)

In November 2020 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.’ The Monster Energy website also listed a number of motor sports on its website, including: Motor Sport, Drifting, Formula 1 Racing.

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.

Reference:

www.monsterbevcorp.com (9 November 2020)

In October 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed an article titled 'Earth Island Institute and Plastic Pollution Coalition Take On Big Plastic' dated 27 February 2020, on the Plastic Pollution Coalition website.

This stated: "Earth Island Institute and Plastic Pollution Coalition, represented by Cotchett, Pitre, & McCarthy, filed the first major lawsuit against Crystal Geyser Water Company, The Clorox Company, The Coca-Cola Company, Pepsico, Inc., Nestlé USA, Inc., Mars, Incorporated, Danone North America, Mondelez International, Inc., Colgate-Palmolive Company, and The Procter & Gamble Company for polluting our waterways, coasts, and oceans with millions of tons of plastic packaging.

Josh Floum, Earth Island Institute’s Board President, stated “This is the first of what I believe will be a wave of lawsuits seeking to hold the plastics industry accountable for the unprecedented mess in our oceans".

The company lost half a mark under Pollution & Toxics.

Reference:

plasticpollutioncoalition.org (27 February 2020)

In October 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed an article dated 23 October 2019 on the Greenpeace website, titled "Coke, Nestlé, and PepsiCo are top plastic polluters yet again".

This stated "Coke, Nestlé, and PepsiCo have topped the list of world’s worst plastic polluters for the second year running, a global survey by Break Free From Plastic has found [...] when it comes to their policies on plastics it’s clear that these huge global brands are planning to fail. They’ll continue to be the worst polluters for years to come unless they radically change their policies."

It stated that Coca-Cola had a plastic footprint of 3m tonnes, equivalent to 108bn plastic bottles per year.

The company lost half a mark under Pollution & Toxics for secondary criticism.

Reference:

greenpeace.org.uk (23 October 2019)

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)

In October 2020 Ethical Consumer searched for an update on a story covered by The Guardian on 3 November 2014, which had 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.

Ethical Consumer viewed an article dated 30 July 2019, titled 'Living without water: the crisis pushing people out of El Salvador' on the Guardian website. This stated that the Coca-Cola bottling company was one of Nejapa's "biggest industrial water guzzlers and alleged polluters". It continued, "In the fields behind the Coca-Cola factory, murky, foul-smelling water can be seen pumping into a stream."

The company lost half a mark under Habitats and Resources for unsustainable resource extraction.

Reference:

Living without water: the crisis pushing people out of El Salvador (30 July 2019)

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)

In October 2020 Ethical Consumer searched the Coca-Cola website for information on its palm oil sourcing policy.

No clear policy was identified. The company's 'CDP Water Security Questionnaire 2019' was viewed. This stated "Within our supply chain, we set a goal to sustainably source all (100%) of our priority ingredients by 2020." Palm oil was listed as a priority ingredient. No information about the company's progress for achieving this target in relation to palm oil was identified.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil website was viewed. An article titled 'Suspension and Termination due to non-submission of ACOP reports 2016' dated 18 September 2017 was viewed. This listed The Coca-Cola Company as one of several members suspended for failing to submit its ACOP reports for two consecutive years. It did not appear that the company had made any submissions since the article was published.

Overall, the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for its palm oil sourcing and lost a whole mark.

Reference:

CDP Water Security Questionnaire 2019 (30 July 2019)