The Modern Pepsi Vs Coke Debate: Which Is Greener?

Back in the 1980s and 90s, the cola wars between Pepsi and Coca-Cola were based on taste and style.  Which cola tastes better?  Which company is more in touch with pop culture?  But 21st century consumers are asking different questions.  Which company is doing more to reduce their environmental impact?

The Battle of the Plant-based Bottles
The most recent development in the green cola wars is the creation of the plant-based plastic bottle.  In 2009, Coca-Cola introduced the PlantBottle, a plastic bottle containing 30% renewable plant-based material.  That 30% is made from sugarcane grown in Brazil, while the other 70% of the material for Coca-Cola plastic bottles comes from fossil fuels, as does most of the plastic currently produced.  In 2011, PepsiCo announced their competition to Coca-Cola's PlantBottle: a plastic bottle made from 100% renewable plant-based material that is identical to traditional plastic bottles in appearance and function.  PepsiCo will release their renewable plastic bottles in 2012 and plans for full-scale production after a short pilot run.  PepsiCo's plant-based bottles are made from corn husks, switch grass and pine bark, so they've also eliminated the need to import foreign materials like Coca-Cola's Brazilian sugarcane.

The Cola Wars Continue
The winner of this battle is clearly PepsiCo, but the war isn't over yet.  The Coca Cola Company's plan for their PlantBottle was to incorporate plant-based material into all of their product packaging by 2020, but now that PepsiCo has harnessed the technology to create a 100% plant-based bottle, Coca-Cola may soon break onto the battlefield with new tactics.

Keep in mind that both The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo are corporate giants with numerous brand labels under each of their umbrellas.  Some of their sustainability policies are company wide, while others are limited to individual products.  This article addresses one only aspect of their sustainability efforts, and a more detailed analysis of each company's carbon emissions, water usage, and other corporate responsibility factors may show one company to be greener than the other overall.  Both PepsiCo and The Coca-Cola Company are highly ranked on the Global 1000 list, which rates companies based the sort of detailed analysis previously described.  In 2009, Coca-Cola ranked number 113, beating out PepsiCo at 169.  Consumers will need to check back with Justmeans for updated ratings to see if those numbers have shifted with recent developments.

Photo Credit:  gongus