Thursday, 21 February 2013

Buying Coca-Cola Can't Help Polar Bears

Image Source: & Buchanan

In recent months Coca Cola have been running an advertising campaign which states that they are helping the WWF to save the Polar Ice Caps, home of the Polar Bears. The implied message being, buy Coke and help save the Polar Bears. This is an outrageous claim which I find most offensive.

Coca Cola (and its many subsidiaries) are probably the world’s biggest user of aluminium cans. Aluminium is a metal which requires massive amounts of energy to produce. In fact the aluminium beverage can industry’s annual electricity consumption is almost 300 billion kilowatt-hours, or about 3% of the world’s total electricity consumption.

The energy required to produce just three aluminium cans is roughly equivalent to that of filling one of those cans with petrol and burning it. Imagine then the waste when in the United States of America one hundred million (100,000,000) aluminium beverage cans are sent to landfill, littered or incinerated every day.

When recycled each aluminium can has the potential to save enough energy to run a television for three hours. On a worldwide scale, the number of cans which are not recycled represents about 23 billion kilowatt-hours squandered each year. That is just under quarter of one per cent of the world’s total electricity consumption wasted.

(Sources;, and

In addition to the pollution caused by energy production, every tonne of newly extracted aluminium results in four tonnes of toxic / caustic waste being dumped somewhere in the world.

Nice stats I hear you say, but what does this have to do with Polar Bears?

Given that manufacturing cans uses so much power it is clear that any industry using those cans has a significant role to play in global warming and as a result melting the ice caps. Without these huge tracts of ice it is impossible for the Polar Bear to hunt and consequently the Polar Bear population is shrinking. It is a sad fact that at the current rates of decline, Arctic ice may disappear by mid-century. If it does, the polar bear will follow soon after.

So far I have only touched on the cans in this introduction to my poem. a normal can of coke contains about 39g of sugar, a substance recognised as being a leading contributor towards obesity and diabetes. It is estimated that the US taxpayer pays around $190 billion annually on health issues relating to these two diseases. This figure equates to a fifth of the USA’s total health care budget.

What is clear to me is that buying more cans of any fizzy pop, will not only contribute to global warming and kill off the Polar bears, but will also increase the incidence of obesity and diabetes in the human race and end up costing taxpayers in the same way that tobacco has. With this in mind I find it galling that any fizzy drink manufacturer can claim that buying their product will help the plight of the polar bears, or indeed do anything good for our planet.

The following poem is a ludic poem, I hope you like it.

Buying Coca-Cola Can't Help Polar Bears

Coca is an ingredient in both chocolate and cocaine
and cola drinks rot peoples teeth and cause significant weight gain.
These products help drive the cost of healthcare through the roof
as people in the developed world satisfy their sweet tooth.
Governments, as cool as ice ignore the harm these drinks cause,
support for a government would melt if pop was rationed, to save jaws.
The multi-national companies who make and sell this poison
are aware that sugar products harm and kill, but profit is their reason.
Making millions of aluminium cans helps melt the Polar ice cap.
Their advert claims that buying Coke will help save bears, What Crap.
Put these facts together and one thing simply glares,
Coca-Cola help the ice melt and kill Polar bears.

John Carré Buchanan
20 February 2013


  1. Now I know what a ludic poem is! thanks. A lot of the aluminium is manufactured in places where they use hydro-electric power to generate the energy required to separate aluminium from the oxide. This creates its own environmental problems. (They also use coal for certain processes, thereby contributing to global warming by burning fossil fuels.) (Kitimat, where I currently live, was built to house workers for a giant aluminium smelter. This thing is the size of a reasonable town.) Even worse than aluminium, however, is the use of plastic drinks containers which are not even more ubiquitous than aluminium cans, since these are made from fossil fuels, require fossil fuels to provide the energy to make them and are virtually indestructible, but designed to be used once before being either recycled or tossed into a landfill. Back in the late 80s/early 90s, I was involved in the packaging issue as an environmentalist, and I well recollect the problems we had with specifically Coca Cola refusing to accept more than 2 dozen cans or plastic drink containers at a time for recycling, while simultaneously, undermining and destroying local glass bottlers. I have refused to drink Coke ever since.

    1. Thanks for your comment Andy,
      Ludic poems are not confined to this format, they are basically any poem which uses a word game as its format, It might use the words of another poem to start each line in the verses or step through as I have done, or well I leave it to your imagination..... As for the poem prior to my accident I headed up the logistics for an alumina refinery in Germany, as such I have a pretty detailed knowledge of how the industry affects the environment. Starting with the mining operations in places like Africa, Australia, India and South America. Then there are the effects shipping has on the environment, things like transporting alien species in the bilges, and the huge amounts of fuel burnt. The refining process produces around 50% waste products such as red mud atheists massive amounts of power,(something like 3% of the worlds electricity is used making aluminium.) Need less to say when I saw Cokes most recent ads. I was outraged.

  2. Nice ludic poem!

    You highlight a great point - how much and with how much cynicism should we be expressing when we hear big brands talk about the environment like this? (Lots, probably), and the importance of really separating what companies SAY about such issues with what they actually DO.

    1. Cheoy Lee, Thank you for your comment. It is a great shame that these companies all to often truly believe they are doing some good. The toilet paper company that plants three trees for every one they cut down for instance does not consider that the fast growing foreign trees they import bring with them disease or pests that are new to the environment and end up causing damage. Or the huge amounts of water that is required to process the paper etc. In this particular instance coke are fully aware of the global damage they cause, which is why I was so enraged.


I really appreciate constructive feedback. If you are able to comment it would be most grateful.