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It’s time to ban and put the Coca-Cola Christmas truck tour on the naughty list

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Green Christmas: Let’s dump one of the stupidest Christmas ‘traditions’

Holidays are coming, which means families all over the country are flocking to their town centres to see (checks notes) a large red lorry they’ve seen on a television advert.

But one British waste and recycling company thinks that the Coca-Cola Christmas truck tour is one Christmas “tradition” which should be put in the bin.

With Coca-Cola named as the world’s largest plastic polluter, BusinessWaste.co.uk says that driving a truck the length and breadth of the country for no clear purpose sets a bad example.

“Those fizzy pop guys might have invented the red-suited Santa, but they’ve ruined Christmas,” says BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall.

What’s the problem with this family-friendly event?

This year is the ninth of Coca-Cola’s long festive tradition of (checks notes, again) taking a celebrity truck to British town centres and supermarket car parks in the middle of winter.

The company is promoting its global “World Without Waste” pledge where visitors are asked to bring empty cans and bottles, which are converted to a charity pledge; and while the motivation is honourable, BusinessWaste.co.uk says this play mere lip-service to the environmental impact of the tour.

“The fact is, they’re driving lorries over 3,000 miles up and down the country, then up and down the country, then up and down the country one final time on completely unnecessary journeys, with zero route planning” says BusinessWaste.co.uk’s Mark Hall. “That’s the same as driving from London to Moscow – and back again!”

BusinessWaste.co.uk ran the numbers and found that the American-styled Coca-Cola Scania T Cab lorry:

• Does 10.6 miles to the gallon
• Has an 11-litre engine
• Weighs 40 tonnes fully-loaded with promotional fizzy pop
• Will use 287 gallons (1,305 litres) of diesel fuel
• At current fuel prices (£1.31/litre) that’s £1,709 – about the same that an average family will spend on fuel annually
• That’s the same as 750 school lunches
• Even Santa spends less on fuel for his sleigh every year, which official figures tell us runs on one carrot per each of the eight reindeer

“That doesn’t look good, no matter which way you look at it,” says Hall, “All so you can queue in the winter cold and have your photograph taken with a lorry!”

Surely there’s some good coming out of this?

Coca-Cola are giving 10p to homeless charity Crisis for every bottle or can dropped into their recycling bins during the tour. That’s really good news.
They’re also pledging to collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one they sell by the year 2030. That’s also excellent news, especially in the light of the fact that their products currently make up a significant proportion of plastic pollution.

So why don’t Coca-Cola just make a flagship donation to charity anyway? The fuel cost of the tour alone could cover shelter and meals for 60 homeless people at Christmas.

“Yes, they’re trying to incentivise recycling, which is praiseworthy,” says Mark Hall, “But these are waste materials which families would surely be recycling anyway at home, at work, and in schools.”

When you compare the environmental impact of the tour against charitable pledges, we’re not sure there’s a good trade-off.

You’re being Scrooges about this, aren’t you?

Yes. Yes we are.

While this is a family event that people actually make plans to participate in and we hate to spoil people’s fun, BusinessWaste.co.uk knows the financial and environmental costs of running forty-tonne trucks up and down motorways.

“We’re supposed to be cutting unnecessary journeys, not making more of them.”

And we’re not the only people who have a problem with the truck tour. Two years ago, Public Health England said that it was “the last thing children need” in the midst of an obesity crisis among young people.

Last year, the tour was scaled back amid the health outcry which included public protests, calls for local council bans, and strongly-worded letters from professional health bodies.

“On top of everything, we’re not sure that a ‘tradition’ based on a television advert is really a tradition, either,” says Mark Hall. “Who gets drawn into made-up TV advert things anyway?”

“It’s as simples as that. Oh.”

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