Coca Cola is on of the largest distributors of plastic bottles and cans in the world. With the world starting to shift towards a greener entitative Coke is in the crosshair of environmentalists because of their plastic bottles. Coke understands that they must do something because they rely on those bottles and cans for their primary business. Being a multinational company Coke does business all over the globe in many different countries, and these countries unfortunately do not have the laws and regulations on plastics as other countries do. Coca Cola took the lead and partnered with their bottlers to collect and recycle a bottle or can for everyone they sell by 2030 in a vision they called World Without Waste. Their main focus for this program is going to be in the southern and eastern parts of Africa where the pollution is the greatest. Coca Cola is going to instill three different pillars into their packaging plan to reduce waste. Those pillars are design, partner and collect. Coke is designing their future products to be 100% recyclable by 2025 and by 2030 they hope to have all their packing made from 50% recycled material. Coca Cola is partnering with local communities, NGOs, and industries across southern and eastern Africa to help consumers collect the packing, so it doesn’t end up in the environment. In South Africa Coke got together with other manufactures to form the PET recycling company in 2004. It’s a non-profit organization that collects a voluntary fee from converters and importers who use the resign that is found in the plastic. That fee is then funneled back into local recycling plants. With the introduction of the PETCO recycling rate of PET has gone through the roof with it being just 14% in 2005 to 65% in 2018. In 2018 the Coke system in South Africa collected more plastic bottles than the they put into the market. In June Coca Cola has opened PETCO facilities in Kenya, Uganda and they hope to start some in Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana. Coca Cola provides financial support to all these recycling plants through grants and voluntary fees, they also purchase around 10,000 tons of recycled materials to use in new bottles.
Obesity has been one of top issues that the world faces. In 2014 there were nearly two billion adults which is almost 40% of the people over the age of 18 that were obese or overweight. With Coke being half of the carbonated drink market in the world they are constantly targeted as a reason for such high numbers in obesity. In 2016 Coca Cola started to introduce wellness programs and show fight against obesity. Coke has developed new market strategies for the younger generations with their biggest one being the “Share a Coke” strategy. They put the top 250 names on coke bottles and cans to invite strangers to get to know one another. This strategy lead to a 7% increase in young adults in Australia which is where they first introduced the strategy. Many health advocate groups saw this strategy as helping hand to the increase in obesity in young people. With the world starting to become more aware about what they are putting into their body the US soft drink market is seeing declines in sales. Coke is constantly putting in money and hours into their research & development sector to try and find a low calorie drink that consumers also like the taste so they can cater to the more health consensus market. In 2014 Coca Cola made a goal to actively promote an active healthy lifestyle while engaging consumers. That year Coke made out $22 million dollars’ worth of grants to more than 330 active living programs in 112 markets covering 40 different countries. Coke has also been met criticism involving their push for a healthier lifestyle. In 2013 the UK Advertising Standards Authority banned one of Coke’s ads because it was misleading about how easily calories could be burned off by simply laughing out loud or doing a dance.
Coca Cola has also had allegations against its ads that use alternative sweeteners in that they are misleading consumers by saying that drinking diet coke will help with weight loss. Aspartame is the main sweetener in Coke’s low-calorie option Diet Coke, but that sweetener has been one of the most researched ingredients in the past 50 years. There was a report that was put out that showed that drinking diet coke didn’t lead to any significant weight loss. Thirty studies involving over 300,000 people showed that artificial sweeteners can be linked to obesity and diabetes.
In 2010 eight people came forward with a case against Coke stating that the company had been involved with the kidnapping and murdering of labor union leaders at there Colombia facility. They said that Coke hired a paramilitary squad to show up to the front gates of small bottling facility in northern Colombia. They said the squad killed the front gateman and a member on the union executive board. They also said they kidnapped another union member and also set the union offices on fire. The following day they showed back up and demanded all the employees sign a document that gave their resignation from the union. Coca Cola has never been prosecuted with these charges and they stated that those employees died in areas not around the facility due to civil war in the country. A more recent labor union problem from Coca Cola involved union workers going on strike in plant in Chicago. The union workers claimed that the mangers would walk the floor with baseball bats as scare tactic.
- Pietracci, Bruno, and Jacques Vermeulen. 2019. “A World without Waste in Africa.” New African, no. 596 (July): 54–55. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=a9h&AN=137256005&site=eds-live&scope=site.
- Gertner, D., & Rifkin, L. (2018). Coca‐Cola and the Fight against the Global Obesity Epidemic. Thunderbird International Business Review, 60(2), 161–173. https://doi.org/10.1002/tie.21888
- Berr, J. (2017, October 19). Diet soda makers sued over "misleading" ads. Retrieved November 13, 2019, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/diet-soda-makers-sued-over-misleading-ads/.
- Foust, D., Smith, G., & Woyke, E. (2006). “Killer Coke” or Innocent Abroad? BusinessWeek, (3968), 46–48. Retrieved from https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=bth&AN=19398542&site=eds-live&scope=site
- Filloon, W. (2015, December 3). Coca-Cola Strike 2015: Union Workers Claim Management Intimidated Them With Baseball Bats. Retrieved November 13, 2019, from https://www.eater.com/2015/12/3/9841508/coca-cola-strike-chicago.
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