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Can of Coca-Cola on ice
Coca-Cola aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Image credit: istock/Fotoatelie

Brief: Coca-Cola and bottling partners launch $138m sustainability fund

July 12, 2023

  • Coca-Cola and eight bottling partners have closed a $137.7 million venture capital fund focusing on sustainability investments that will be managed by VC firm Greycroft.
  • The bulk of the capital comes from Coca-Cola and the eight bottlers* accounting for nearly half of the Coca-Cola system’s global volumes, who have each contributed $15 million.

The Greycroft Coca-Cola System Sustainability Fund will focus on technologies that can reduce the carbon footprint of the Coca-Cola system in areas including packaging, heating and cooling, facility decarbonization, distribution, and 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,” said Coca-Cola president and CFO John Murphy.

The plan is to invest in companies “at the point of commercialization,” according to Coca-Cola and its bottlers, who have invested in several packaging tech startups in recent years.

These include Ioniqa, which seeks to to transform mixed-color, partly contaminated PET waste into clear, food-grade PET; and CuRe Technology, which uses polyester rejuvenation to target plastics that cannot be recycled by mechanical recycling methods and prevents them from being incinerated, downcycled or sent to landfill.

Several Coca-Cola bottlers have also issued green bonds.

“We expect to benefit from getting access to emerging technology and science for sustainability and carbon reduction,” said the company, which has committed to make 100% of its packaging recyclable by 2025. It also aims to have at least 25% of its beverages by volume sold in refillable/returnable bottles or in fountain dispensers with reusable packaging by 2030.

Critics say that the world’s larger drinks companies have a poor track record when it comes to meeting packaging sustainability pledges. In 1990 Coca-Cola and PepsiCo both announced plans to sell soda in bottles made from 25% recycled PET, but phased them out shortly afterwards owing to high costs.

According to its latest sustainability report, Coca-Cola’s PET bottles currently contain 15% recycled material, while PepsiCo’s plastic packaging contains just 7% recycled content. Both have set targets to use 50% recycled content by 2030.

What is the Coca-Cola system?

Coca-Cola sells concentrates to authorized bottling partners, who combine them with still or sparkling water and sweeteners and then package, sell and distribute the finished beverages.

In 2021, five of its 225 bottling partners accounted for 41% of its global case volumes: Coca-Cola FEMSA, serving Latin America; Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP), serving Western Europe, Australia, Pacific and Indonesia; Coca-Cola HBC AG, serving Eastern Europe; Arca Continental, serving Latin America and parts of North America; and Swire Beverages, serving Asia and parts of North America.

* The eight bottlers contributing to the new fund are: Arca Continental, Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, Coca-Cola Consolidated, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP), Coca-Cola FEMSA, Coca-Cola HBC, Reyes Coca-Cola Bottling, and Swire Coca-Cola.

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