Some would argue that Coke and Pepsi have very distinctive flavors, but according to environmental groups, both products “Taste like tar sands.”

That’s because both the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo are being called out for their use of Canadian tar sands oil. The Sierra Club and ForestEthics released two full-page ads on the companies yesterday in USA Today as part of a national campaign to eliminate the use of tar sands oil by corporate transportation fleets, EcoWatch reports.

“The soda industry is one of the biggest oil users in the United States,” the ads, which were provided to POLITICO, note. The ad targeting Coca-Cola will run in Atlanta, where the company has its headquarters, and the one targeting Pepsi will run in the Dallas area, where the company has corporate offices.

The ads say that despite the companies’ “promises of sustainability,” Coke and Pepsi, among other soda manufacturers, continue supporting “one of the dirtiest oils on Earth.”

The Sierra Club’s and ForestEthics’ “Tastes Like Tar Sands” campaign urges Coke and Pepsi “to stop using tar sands to fuel their delivery vehicles.” According to the campaign, the soda industry’s transportation fleets include more than 100,000 cars and trucks.

ForestEthics released a report last year detailing the risk of US tar sands refineries to communities and their health. US refineries’ use of Canadian tar sands oil is a dangerous process that heightens health risks in communities living near refineries. According to the report:

Minority communities and the poor, the young and the old, and those suffering from diseases that affect their heart and lung systems – these are the groups that already pay most dearly for our current dependence upon refineries for transportation and fuel. And these are the same people who are now facing additional health costs because of the growing relationship between U.S. refineries and Canada’s tar sands.

When the material from Canadian tar sands is extracted from the ground, it is in a form called “bitumen.” US refineries use an “extremely toxic and corrosive bitumen blend,” which is converted into a type of synthetic oil that is both more difficult and expensive to produce than conventional oil. The refining process is hazardous to the health of surrounding communities.

Tar sands refineries produce large quantities of sulfur dioxide air pollution, which is unregulated, ForestEthics reports. The effect of the tar sands refining process is evident in Alberta, Canada, where communities surrounding refineries have elevated levels of cancer.

Just this summer, two new international studies pointed to air pollution as a cause of serious negative health effects, including lung cancer and heart failure. The studies found the more pollution, the more disease.

The “Tastes Like Tar Sands” campaign is only one part of a broader campaign to push major corporations to address the environmental footprint caused by their transportation fleets.

The environmental groups told Coke and Pepsi, “Choices you make about how your company sources oil, and the efficiency of your fleet, will have a direct effect on U.S. carbon pollution and will send powerful market signals about efficiency and extreme oil.”

Their decision to focus on soda companies stems from the fact that the companies own and operate some of the largest transportation fleets in the nation, making them “among the biggest private consumers of oil.” Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Dr. Pepper are the three largest soda manufacturers in the United States, generating a combined total profit of more than $66 billion last year.

In 2011, the three companies emitted a combined total of over 11.7 million tons of carbon pollution, according to the Sierra Club.


Tar Sands Ad - Coke and Pepsi









Via: Sierra Club, “Tastes Like Tar Sands

Alisha is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow her on Twitter @childoftheearth.