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Quick Hits: Green Coke?


Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

Going green is a great public relations move that doesn't always translate to the bottom line. For public corporations, mandated by law to protect shareholder value, balancing the profit motive with social consciousness is a tough road to hoe.

Coca-Cola (KO), the world's largest beverage maker, is swapping out greenhouse gas-emitting vending machines for newer, cleaner models. Fortune reports the company invested $40 million to produce the ultra-efficient drink dispensers and has already installed 8,000 around the world.

But Coke continues to leave a significant carbon footprint. The company and its distributors have over ten million old school coolers in 210 countries around the world. The firm's environmentally oriented CEO, E. Neville Isdell, said recently, "We have the technology and we know it works. The problem is, the economic logic doesn't hang together."

Coke isn't alone in its quandary. Other big companies like General Electric (GE), Wal-Mart (WMT) and General Motors (GM) claim to have green aspirations, but can't get the numbers to line up. GE builds coal-burning power plants that sequester carbon dioxide, but has yet to sell a single one.

The prohibitive cost of green projects often leads to false starts. The challenge is saving the planet without going bankrupt.
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