Valser, a Coca-Cola-owned brand of sparkling water based in Switzerland, is embracing new climate capture technology. Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland (the bottling plant that makes Valser) has partnered with Climeworks, a pioneering company that captures carbon dioxide, to use the new technology to carbonate its water.
Climeworks has already partnered with a greenhouse that uses CO2 to help plants grow faster, and since the beverage industry is one of the only existing markets that uses carbon dioxide, it seemed like the natural next step. But, the technology won’t stop there.
Christoph Gebald, co-founder and director of Climeworks, says that other applications are coming, including making carbon-neutral fuel or concrete to make plastic, shoes and fish feed. But, it’s the greenhouse and beverage industries that use carbon dioxide on a large scale, and this is how Climeworks hopes to scale up its technology.
At Climeworks plants, the company uses its one-of-a-kind technology to capture CO2 inside shipping containers by pulling air inside of them and then processing it through filters — working almost like an incredibly powerful tree. When a filter gets full, the team heats the collector and release the gas in a pure form so it can be injected into deep underground storage.
The amount of carbon dioxide in the air is higher than it has been for millennia (about 400,000 years to be exact), and this new process from Climeworks will help address this problem. But, putting the CO2 into beverages instead of underground still allows the fizz to come out when you open the bottle. To help impact climate change, the amount of carbon dioxide we need to remove from the air could be around 10 billion tons per year — according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — and the global food and beverage industry produces about 6 million tons annually. So there is still a long way to go.
“The beverage industry is really the bridge from today — no existing market — to enabling us to further work down our cost curve and industrialize the technology,” says Gebald. “It’s really the missing bridge between startups and, one day, climate-relevant scale to remove carbon from the air.”
Sucking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is currently a more expensive option than resorting to other sources, but it does make sense for some locations. Once the technology becomes cheaper, it will become a more attractive option for other businesses.