In concert with today's ceremonial lighting of the Olympic Flame, The Coca-Cola Company announced that its worldwide presentation of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay will focus on environmental sustainability and the roles people can play in improving the quality of life in their communities.
To help underscore the message of environmental stewardship &ndash and recognize those who are dedicated to pursuing positive change &ndash Coca-Cola has selected local “environmental champions” to join the ranks of all the torchbearers the Company has chosen around the world to carry the Olympic Flame.
Yesterday (March 23), a select international group of the environmental champion torchbearers gathered here to express their environmental commitment by planting an olive tree at the birthplace of the Olympic Games, in conjunction with the beginning of the Olympic Torch Relay.
The list of people identified by Coca-Cola to participate in the global Olympic Torch Relay features many local citizens who are an inspiration within their communities. Included are individuals who make a difference in society by playing active roles in environmental issues, primarily in the areas of water conservation, recycling, and energy management and climate protection &ndash the three main engines driving the environmental initiatives of The Coca-Cola Company.
Among the environmental champions for Coca-Cola who will bear the Olympic Flame are Kenyan environmental and political activist Wangari Muta Maathai, the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize; Yul Choi, one of South Korea's leading environmental figures and a director of the Green Fund; Peru's W. Luis Bartra, who has helped native populations in northern Argentina gain access to water; Australia's Alby Wooler, known locally as “Mr. Landcare” for his volunteer environmental work; and Filiz Demirayak, the director general of WWF-Turkey and a renowned professional in coastal management.
Some of the torchbearers chosen by Coca-Cola come from the network of the global conservation organization WWF, also known as the World Wide Fund For Nature or the World Wildlife Fund. The WWF mission is to prevent the degradation of the environment and to achieve harmony between nature and humankind.
“The environmental champion torchbearers selected by Coca-Cola are positive, living ambassadors of sustainability. Through the Olympic Torch Relay and their presence, we hope to raise awareness and promote greater participation in activities such as local water programs, community recycling and energy conservation &ndash efforts that mirror what Coca-Cola seeks to do on a broad scale, as part of our goal to support sustainable communities wherever we do business,” said Scott McCune, vice president and director, Worldwide Sports, Entertainment and Licensing, The Coca-Cola Company.
“As a Presenting Partner of the Olympic Torch Relay, Coca-Cola wants to inspire even more people along the Relay route to take positive action that can make a difference in their communities,” McCune said. “Encouraging environmental responsibility is a tangible way that we are inviting people to ‘Live Olympic on the Coke Side of Life' &ndash to embrace the Olympic spirit of positivity in our daily lives, which is what the Coke Side of Life inspires us to do.”
For populations in numerous cities on the global route of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay, this will be the first-ever appearance of the Olympic Flame. Around the world, The Coca-Cola Company is producing city festivities for the local arrival of the flame, to touch consumers individually and leave lasting, cherished memories of this unique Olympic Games experience. In many instances, local Relay events created by Coca-Cola will include the commitment to the environment and the roles people can play in helping protect and preserve the planet for generations to come.
Olive Tree Ceremony
Yesterday's tree-planting ceremony celebrated the environmental mission of Coca-Cola for the Olympic Torch Relay and also observed the current reforestation efforts for areas of Ancient Olympia. The cradle of the Olympic Games and the ultimate symbol of Greek and international cultural and sports heritage, Ancient Olympia was severely damaged by forest fires that scorched the Peloponnesus region in Greece last August.
Parts of the reforestation already under way are funded by a US $2 million donation from The Coca-Cola Company to the Hellenic Olympic Committee. The donation was in addition to fire relief efforts from The Coca-Cola Foundation, in conjunction with Coca-Cola Hellas and the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company.
The environmental champion torchbearers who journeyed to Ancient Olympia for Sunday's olive tree ceremony were eminent scientist Igor Chestin, the director of WWF-Russia; global explorer and environmentalist Douglas Stoup; Greece's George Kazantzopoulos, vice president of the Hellenic Institute for Environmental Management; and the Chinese duo of Wang Lee-Hom, the star singer-songwriter and environmental protection advocate, and Liu Hong-Liang, a noted environmental scientist specializing in lake research.
The torchbearers planted the symbolic olive tree in Pierre de Coubertin Grove, named after the founder of the modern Olympic Games. The tree was placed at the foot of the monument where de Coubertin's heart is entombed. The Frenchman, who died in 1937, is buried in Lausanne, Switzerland, the home of the International Olympic Committee.
“This young tree represents the renewal of this sacred site, which already is showing fresh signs of greenery and rebirth,” said Minoas Kyriakou, president of the Hellenic Olympic Committee. “It demonstrates once again the commitment of The Coca-Cola Company to the Olympic ideals and values, through its generous financial support and this physical expression of concern for our environment and its sustainability."
Coca-Cola and Environmental Sustainability
The environmental commitment of The Coca-Cola Company emphasizes building sustainable communities throughout the world. The mission is focused on water stewardship, sustainable packaging, and energy management and climate protection.
As part of its water stewardship commitment, Coca-Cola has set a goal to return to nature the water it uses in beverage production. This means the Company is working to continually improve water-use efficiency in its operations; recycling water used for manufacturing processes, so it can be returned safely to the environment; and replenishing water in communities and ecosystems through locally relevant projects.
In the area of sustainable packaging, The Coca-Cola Company is geared toward “using less and re-using more” and envisions a world in which its packaging is no longer seen as waste, but as a valuable resource for future use. Product packages from Coca-Cola today are 100-percent recyclable and among the most recycled in the world. The Company has taken a leadership role in sustainable packaging through new technology, innovative package design, and recycling.
To address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its millions of coolers and vending machines worldwide, The Coca-Cola Company is building a sustainable refrigeration program that is the cornerstone of its energy management and climate protection efforts. The Company has transitioned to HFC-free insulation for new purchases of sales and marketing refrigeration equipment and has made significant investment in HFC-free, carbon dioxide technology, to help dramatically reduce direct GHG emissions from refrigerants and improve energy efficiency. Coca-Cola also continues to broaden use of its proprietary Energy Management System, EMS-55, which can reduce refrigeration energy consumption by up to 35 percent.
“Journey of Harmony”
The worldwide Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay &ndash themed “The Journey of Harmony” &ndash will be the largest Relay in the history of the Olympic Games. The record-setting event will cover approximately 137,000 kilometers (85,128 miles) over a span of 130 days and travel to all five continents represented by the Olympic Rings.
Coca-Cola is a Global Partner of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay and is co-presenting the event with Samsung and Lenovo. The global advertising campaign, “Coke Side of Life,” has been integrated into marketing communications for the Olympic Games through the theme of “Live Olympic on the Coke Side of Life.” The message is an invitation to live on the positive side of life and shares the values of inspiration and belief that individuals can make a difference that are embodied in the Olympic spirit.
The Coca-Cola Company has been continuously associated with the Olympic Games since 1928 &ndash longer than any other corporate sponsor. The historic partnership of Coca-Cola and the International Olympic Committee currently lasts through 2020.