The use of a landfill gas-to-energy system at one of its Atlanta-area plants has made a unit of beverage giant Coca-Cola Co. the third-largest generator of on-site green power in the U.S., according to recently released rankings from the Environmental Protection Agency.
The system — which is in place at a Coca-Cola Refreshments Inc. plant that makes concentrates and products such as the bag-in-a-box for fountain dispensers — supplies 6 percent of the annual U.S. electricity use of Coca-Cola Refreshments, or 47.5 gigawatt hours of on-site biomass power.
The landfill gas-to-energy system began operating this spring, and vaulted Coca-Cola to its third-place position after not appearing on the top 20 list of on-site green-power generators in 2011.
Coca-Cola Refreshments is the bottling and customer-service arm of Coca-Cola in the U.S. and Canada, and was created in late 2010 to integrate and coordinate the activities of four business components of the company.
Coca-Cola Refreshments includes CCNA Foodservice; CCNA Supply Chain Operations; the company's MinuteMaid/Odwalla Juice business; and Coca-Cola Enterprises North America, which Coca-Cola purchased in late 2010.
Coca-Cola said that the landfill gas-to-energy system at the Atlanta plant supplies electricity, steam and chilled water for that facility. The company said the use of biofuels, fuel cells and solar panels to provide alternative energy at other Coca-Coca Refreshment facilities in the U.S. also contributed to the recognition from EPA.
“The EPA applauds Coca-Cola Refreshments as a leader in using green power,” said Blaine Collison, director of EPA's Green Power Partnership, which recognizes organizations for their support of alternative energy.
The energy saved at the Atlanta plant is the equivalent of eliminating the carbon dioxide emissions of more than 6,000 passenger vehicles per year, Coca-Cola said.
“Investing in energy-efficiency projects like the landfill-gas-to-energy system creates multiple benefits,” said Brian Kelley, chief product supply officer for Coca-Cola Refreshments. “It helps the Coca-Cola Co. meet our environmental sustainability goals while reducing costs in our manufacturing process.”
The landfill-gas-to-energy project was part of an overall initiative that enabled that plant to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The use of recycled materials, renewable energy, energy-efficient lighting and mechanical systems, as well as reduction in water consumption, all contributed to that LEED Gold classification, Coke said.
The California and Texas facilities of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the Greer, S.C., manufacturing facilities of BMW Manufacturing Co. are the two largest users of on-site green power in the U.S.
Wal-Mart produces almost 115 gigawatt hours of electricity annually — through a combination of biogas, solar and wind energy — for its sites in California. BMW produces almost 61.9 gigawatt hours of biogas energy annually for its Greer operation.