Pepsi, Coke try going green, but not so easy
Imagine if all the hot air exhaled by politicians could be captured and used to power vending machines and coolers. Well, cola giants Coke and Pepsi haven’t gone that far, but both are attempting to use more eco-friendly technology in their vending machines, including using carbon dioxide as a coolant rather than hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. The primary goal is to reduce or eliminate the use of HFCs as coolants and as propellants for foam insulation that is blown into the machines.
Coca-Cola has started using HFC-free vending machines in the UK, but is having a tougher go of it getting bottlers and manufacturers in the US to agree to necessary changes involved. Coke also used HFC-free machines and coolers at the 2008 Beijing Olympic games.
Pepsi, meanwhile, is field testing 30 new vending machines in the USA that use carbon dioxide instead of HFCs to keep the drinks cool. The new machines emit 12% less greenhouse gas, and consume 15% less electricity than current machines.
It doesn’t sound like all that much, but consider that today’s machines are 44% more energy efficient than the machines six years ago. Also multiply that 12% savings by some 5 million machines worldwide that Pepsi hopes to eventually put in place.
The offices, stores, and schools that host Pepsi machines won’t be on the hook for the new machines’ increased production costs, but they will save a little on their electric bill, giving revenues an indirect boost. Even Greenpeace Solutions, a branch of Greenpeace International, is cheering Pepsi’s move. The company has also made its plastic water bottle packaging even lighter, and has redesigned its logo to be more appealing to young adults who for some reason are perceived as being way cooler than middle-aged cola drinkers in giant elastic-waist trousers.
Coke’s relationship with its bottlers and manufacturers has made it difficult for the company to install greener technology. Other big corporations like GE and Procter & Gamble have discovered that their manufacturers are heavily invested in HFC technology, and that it isn’t easy to talk them into retooling production lines for eliminating HFCs and reducing electricity consumption. But once Pepsi and Coke are able to implement these changes, at least we’ll know that the CO2 necessary to cool the machines is in ready supply, from sources ranging from car tailpipes to the back ends of cows to the front ends of bloviating politicians worldwide.