Gap Score

Few brands are as recognizable globally as Coca-Cola, so it’s no surprise that consumers have strong favorable perceptions of the brand’s sustainability. From pairing celebrities and youth in mentoring programs to fighting obesity and promoting women’s heart health, it seems Coke is everywhere, doing good things. Coca-Cola’s “Live Positively” framework reflects the company’s narrowed focus on sustainability, having just three pillars: People, Communities, and Environment. Adding a feather to its cap in the “people” category this year, Coca-Cola responded to critics who attempted to link the brand to a rise in obesity by vowing to cut advertising to children. The company diversified its portfolio to include healthier options like juices, which now make up 38 percent of its offerings, and invests heavily in messaging that promotes a healthy, active lifestyle. While an enormous edge in perception contributes to Coca-Cola’s four-slot jump in the Best Global Green Brands ranking, its performance is also impressive. Over the years, the company has made significant progress addressing its major areas of environmental impact. Aiming to set the standard for water stewardship and minimize water impacts throughout its value chain, the company improved water efficiency in manufacturing by 20 percent. The company also made strides toward recycling wastewater and safely returned about 35 percent of the water used in production back to communities. Coca-Cola is to be commended for measurable progress in other areas like phasing out HFCs (hydroflourocarbons), investing in recycling programs, and sustainable packaging. With GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions on the rise and progress on other green fronts moving slowly, Coca-Cola will have to step up performance to match consumers' high expectations for the iconic brand.