Being in the sustainable business realm, it makes for interesting conversation with the relatives during the holidays. From the father who thinks that global warming is based on loose science and is politically motivated to the mother who asks at the restaurant whether the fish is farmed or wild caught, you’re in for some interesting mind openings about what and how much people that are outside the “green bubble” of your peers know, and what they care about. It gives hope and confirmation that you are indeed not just shouting into the void.
A particularly interesting exchange happened when my in law was talking about greenwashing, and what a farce it was that Arrowhead water was claiming to have an “eco shape” bottle and that it was all a PR sham. Inquiring further, I found that it was made with 30% less plastic in the bottle, with a similarly smaller label, a pretty admirable development on their part, from my perspective. But to my surprise, my suburban San Diego in law said he would like to see them do away with plastic all together, for something all together much more environmentally friendly.
True enough, this would be desirable, said I, though it should be acknowledged that the cumulative impact of this reduction should be noted, that it would lessen the actual resources used, diminish the weight to transport, reducing the fuel consumption of the vehicles transporting it, therefore reducing the emissions produced, and lessening the impact on global climate change. He gave a thoughtful smile and said he’d think further about that, chewing his baked honey ham.
This was, of course, dinnertime speculation on my part, but now it appears my theorizing was correct, as a recent post in Recycling Supermarket confirms, albeit from a different company, none other then Coca-Cola. They have reduced the weight of the shapely ‘contour’ bottles by 20%. And the height as well, it seems, while getting a little more robust in the hips, with a wider profile. That a company of this stature and size would make such a change, to an iconic symbol for the ages, last changed in 1916, says much.
What sort of impact does such a seemingly small change make? Huge. Reducing a 263g bottle to 210g would, according to Coca-Cola, reduce their glass usage by 3,500 tons, and eliminate 2,200 tons of CO2 emissions annually. Now, as the commenter on the originating post about this said, why aren’t they looking in to using recycled glass? True enough, but you can’t turn a supertanker on a dime. The course is indeed shifting, for the better. We shouldn’t throw stones at companies for not going 100% green overnight, but rather, encourage and support their continuing evolution, so more companies have the courage and impetus to do it.
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. His overarching talent is “bottom lining” complex ideas, in a way that is understandable and accessible to a variety of audiences, internal and external to a company.