Sodastream goes to war with Coca-Cola on waste

Companies are such good global citizens these days (the LBGT community of lesbians, bisexuals,gays and transgenders seems to have more supporters than Manchester United).

But the favourite theme for most of the world’s big corporations seems to be ‘sustainability,’ with Unilever in particular trying to take the global lead.

Sustainability is never far from Coca-Cola’s thoughts either although the mighty drink-maker has one obvious problem – its products are sold in billions of cans which still produce mountains of unwanted rubbish despite strenuous recycling efforts.

Now it’s tail is being tweaked (actually being given a painful yank) by make-your-own-fizzy drink firm Sodastream which is highlighting the cans issue with its Facebook-based Cage Challenge.

This involves filling cages with empty drink cans and, to add insult to injury, Sodastream has plonked one of these outside Coke’s Atlanta HQ. Coke, obviously, is reaching for its lawyers.

Now this is quite smart of Sodastream CEO Daniel Birnbaum, trying to draw attention to his (by Coke standards) tiny company and rather old-fashioned product. Birnbaum (pictured below) says: “Every day, approximately one billion bottles and cans are added to our parks, rivers, oceans and landfills worldwide – almost 400 million in America alone. We must not allow Coke, or anyone, to silence this unfortunate truth.”

But is it so smart to get quite as punchy as this when you’re trying to present yourself as a good citizen? The difference between being a good citizen and irritatingly holier-than-thou is quite a fine one.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.