Coca-Cola committed to saving environment

business July 22, 2012 00:00

By Achara Deboonme
The Nation

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In 2012, Coca-Cola saw its brand value go up 1 per cent from 2011, when almost half of the top 100 brands lost value due to the global economic crisis that eroded consumer purchasing power.


According to the evaluation of Millward Brown Optimor, Coca-Cola’s value rose to US$74.3 billion (Bt225 billion), against $73.75 billion in the previous year, which also showed an 8 per cent increase. 
          In both years, the world’s largest soft drink company held the sixth ranking, trailing Apple, IBM, Google, McDonald’s and Microsoft. 
          Effective adoption of social media in marketing was cited as a reason for the increase in brand value, but according to an executive of its business arm in Thailand, weighing more could be strategies to ensure connectivity with consumers and society which will lead to business sustainability. 
          “Market researches show that consumers value connectivity. In advertising our brand, we don’t focus on selling products but on our efforts to shape society. That is how corporates can connect with society,” said Archawat Charoensilp director, public affairs and communications, at Coca-Cola (Thailand).
          At Coca-System in Thailand, which includes all bottlers and distributors, the global “Live Positively” strategy, focusing mainly on recycling, water conservation and climate protection has been attentively adopted within the system and with communities.
          Under the Raknam (Love Water) campaign, by 2020 the group plans to return water equivalent to what it uses in the production process to nature, which effectively means zero water wastage. To produce one litre of Coca-Cola, two litres of water are required now compared with more than three litres five years ago. That is a huge reduction given that soft drinks generate 75 per cent of the group’s business in Thailand. More is to be done as Coca-Cola plans to improve packaging material efficiency per litre of product sold by 7 per cent by 2015, compared with a 2008 base. From soft drinks, this concept will be extended to cover its milk and non-soft drink products. In this category, Coca-Cola is also working on clean-water projects with communities. 
The “Recycle 360degree” was launched last year in cooperation with Chatuchak district, The Coca-Cola Foundation Thailand and The Federation of Thai Industries’ Thailand Institute of Packaging and Recycling Management for Sustainable Environment (TIPMSE). From schools, famous markets and shopping complexes, the 7.8-square kilometre district produces 100 tonnes of waste daily, despite there being only 25,000 residents in the district.
          “We thoroughly observed the entire process from waste collection to incinerator. Without segregation at source, it took four hours for that. Our finding so far is organic waste accounts for half, and 24 per cent is recyclable. Our target [under the two-year project] is to reduce organic waste to 20 per cent and increase the recyclable waste to 34 per cent,” said Budsayada Youngfhuengmontra, corporate citizenship manager.
The green initiative aims to drive integrated solid waste and recycled materials management in the area to become Bangkok’s first model of sustainable solid waste management. “We hope to adopt this programme in other Bangkok districts,” she added. 
Coca-Cola recently introduced its new packing for “Naamthip” drinking water, which promises to use 35 per cent less plastic. This requires new production technology worth Bt700 million to produce the lightweight PET bottles that are fully recyclable and crushable to save space in trash bins.
“The bottle makes our product distinctive from other brands. It shows commitment plays a part in saving the environment and reaches out to consumers who want to join us,” Archawat said.
At its headquarter in North Park, Coca-Cola Thailand also opens the recycle bank once a week, same as at all eight other facilities nationwide. At the bank, employees dump their recyclable waste, which would be sold to waste collectors. 
Regarding climate protection, refrigerators nationwide are replaced with new ones that consume 35 per cent less electricity and cut carbon emission by 99 per cent. While shop owners are happy with lower power bills, the environment enjoys from lower emissions while Coca-Cola can sell more products.
          “Throughout the years of initiatives, we have cultivated sufficient knowledge to share with others. I strongly believe that through the three-sided cooperation dialogue between the business world, the public sector and communities, there can be a solution for anything,” Archawat said.
          Certainly, more recyclable wastes would also benefit Coca-Cola, as its packaging producers get raw materials at cheaper prices. But to Archawat, the benefits are reaped by all of society and the world, with fewer resources consumed. He noted that Coca-Cola is willing to take part in projects that concern the well-being of communities and the world in the short run. Coca-Cola has a lot to offer, not limited to just money, and through this path consumers can take part in its initiatives, he added.
          Coca-Cola won much praise when it decided to switch product-selling ads to mobilise volunteers to help flood victims, followed by a campaign to draw 1 million good ideas about Thailand, a positive campaign to enliven the sentiment. Volunteers are mobilised to join its provincial campaigns, including 300 volunteers who participated in its project in Khon Kaen recently.
          “We’re looking for partners to replicate our learning across Thailand. We’re now ready to partner with any party to raise awareness. For success, we need a new mindset and a most efficient system,” he concluded.