Danes add fizz to Coca-Cola HFC phase-out

US drinks firm pledges to stop using fluorocarbon coolants in refrigeration after Greenpeace campaign

Danish experts have contributed to a new environmental strategy for phasing out the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in refrigeration announced by leading US-based drinks manufacturer Coca-Cola yesterday.

Coca-Cola's commitment is likely to strengthen the resolve of those wanting an eventual ban on HFCs, one of three industrial gases covered by the Kyoto protocol on global warming. Greenpeace said the company had fulfilled "most of its demands" on the issue, and set a "strong environmental benchmark" for other industries. As a sponsor of this summer's Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, Coca-Cola has been among the targets of an internet-based green campaign conducted by the NGO in recent weeks.

Denmark has taken a lead in trying to implement a domestic ban on HFCs, and hopes to put legislation to this effect before parliament shortly. However, the policy is furiously contested by many within the industry who argue that the industrial greenhouse gases' contribution to global warming is minimal (ENDS Daily 21 February).

Danish involvement in the Coca-Cola initiative centred on developing a new coolant for drinks display cases using substitutes for HFCs. The cases, which will go on trial at the Sydney games, further minimise global warming through using 40% less electricity. The Danish energy agency and two private companies, Vestfrost and Danfoss, collaborated with Coca-Cola on the project.

The main elements of Coca-Cola's new strategy include a pledge not to buy equipment using HFCs where cost-efficient alternatives for both refrigeration and insulation are available, by a deadline of the Athens games in 2004. Suppliers will have to give a time schedule for phasing out their use as well as making equipment 40-50% more energy efficient. Research and development into more environmentally friendly refrigeration technologies will also be increased, the company said.

Follow Up:
Danish energy agency, tel: +45 33 92 67 00; Coca-Cola; Greenpeace International, tel: +31 20 524 9515.

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