Coca-Cola and eight bottling partners from around the world formed a $137.7 million venture capital fund that will focus on sustainability investments, the beverage groups said.
Each of the nine entities, including Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, contributed about $15 million to the initiative. The bottlers collectively represent nearly half of Coca-Cola system volume globally.
The companies said with carbon footprint “a major priority” the fund will initially focus on five key areas with the biggest potential impact. Those include: packaging, heating and cooling, facility decarbonization, distribution and the supply chain.
“This fund offers an opportunity to pioneer innovative solutions and help scale them quickly within the Coca-Cola system and across the industry,” John Murphy, president and CFO at Coca-Cola, said in a statement. “We expect to benefit from getting access to emerging technology and science for sustainability and carbon reduction.”
Greycroft, a venture capital firm, will manage the investment known as the Greycroft Coca-Cola System Sustainability Fund. It will invest in companies at the point of commercialization.
Similar to other food and beverage companies, Coca-Cola, which oversees brands such as Dasani, Topo Chico, BodyArmor and its namesake soda, has received criticism that it has fallen behind on its pledge to increase its use of renewable packaging.
The beverage giant said last year it aims to have at least 25% of all beverages it sells come from reusable containers by 2030. But environmental group Oceana noted in May that Coca-Cola’s recent sustainability report showed an estimated 14% of its total beverage volume was served in reusable packaging in 2022, a decline from 16% two years earlier.
In April, Greenpeace criticized Coca-Cola’s commitment to curtailing plastic waste after it pointed out the beverage giant is using more single-use plastic but the number of refillable bottles it has in circulation has stayed the same.
For its part, Coca-Cola has said it is “committed to helping create a more sustainable future” and that it has “a responsibility to be part of the packaging waste solution.”
The beverage giant company has previously highlighted a few of its efforts, including making 100% of its packaging recyclable globally by 2025 (currently 90%) and using at least 50% recycled materials in its packaging by 2030 (currently 25% across all materials and 15% for PET).
It reduced direct (scope 1) and indirect emissions from its energy sources (scope 2) [by 25%] from a 2015 baseline, with more than 70% of its global electricity needs in direct operations now met by renewable sources.
But Scope 3 emissions — which account for 93% of the company’s emissions — increased by 5% from the baseline, due to “unprecedented business growth.” Scope 3 is generally defined as indirect emissions from across a company’s supply and value chain.