The Coke Example

Business challenges, such as reducing the use of plastic packaging, have motivated the company to invest in technologies to control recycling and engage consumers.
Published: January 5, 2020

It’s not every day we wake up and see initiatives from companies interested in becoming more environmentally friendly. After all, the costs for this are very high, the challenges are huge and changes can be painful. So when that happens, we really need to pay attention, analyze and learn.

Coca-Cola, for me, has become an example among the companies interested in solving the global waste problem—first, because of the seriousness of its participation in the Coca-Cola Challenge, which I personally witnessed at AIPIA’s latest event in Amsterdam; and second, by initiatives that the company is putting into practice.

The latest news that I received from Coca-Cola shows that the company is replacing the plastic in its soda can packages with cardboard, which is much more easily degradable by nature than petroleum-based materials. What the company is doing accelerates several packaging markets, particularly Internet of Packaging (IoP) technologies.

Coca-Cola brands go beyond traditional carbonated soft drinks because they involve water—including carbonated options—as well as teas, energy drinks and juices. Many of the companies providing IoP technologies, especially radio frequency identification (RFID) and fingerprint technologies, have viewed Coca-Cola’s challenges related to packaging and recycling as opportunities to explore new business.

At AIPIA World Congress 2019, it was clear that the gears of technology providers and customers fit together—on one hand, the companies that develop advanced technology solutions, and on the other, buying companies with well-defined challenges.

Most of the technologies offered at the event utilize RFID. In addition to tracking, this also relates to improving the consumer experience via Near Field Communication (NFC) chips, which can interface with a smartphone. Approximately 80 percent of the IoP technologies exhibited at AIPIA World Congress were semiconductor-related and primarily RFID-based—the introduction of which makes sense from a manufacturing standpoint for UHF tracking.

On the other hand, digital printing is going strong in the areas of customer experience and authenticity assurance on the consumer end. This innovation is moving into the supply chain sector, with process gains in logistics, warehousing and the supply chain overall.

The best of all worlds will come when supply chain processes merge RFID with fingerprinting, making it easy to improve the customer experience and ensure product authenticity, without the added cost of additional integrated circuits. This intelligence in adopting solutions must be led by companies like Coca-Cola, which has sought business consultants more often than technology consultants.

The outcome of Coca-Cola’s strategy should be an example for the general market: taking the focus off technologies alone and viewing the core business of every company, from small to giant. Let’s see what happens.

Edson Perin is the editor of IoP Journal Brasil and the founder of Netpress Editora.