Coca-Cola invests in water to reach sustainability goals

Coca-Cola charts significant progress in water stewardship.

With water being a valuable resource all over the world, Coca-Cola Southern Africa (CCSA) has made tangible efforts through its water efficiency projects to reduce water use, recycle water in its plant operations and replenish communities where they operate.

Coca-Cola Southern Africa President Therese Gearhart says "Water is key to our journey toward sustainability. It is an essential ingredient in all of our beverages and is needed to produce the agricultural ingredients on which we rely, such as citrus fruits and sugar. Water also is critical to the health and economic prosperity of the communities we serve. If the communities we serve are not sustainable, we cannot have a sustainable business."

The Company's goal is to give back an amount of water equivalent to what it uses in the production of all its beverages by 2020. To achieve this Coca-Cola is focusing efforts on the following three areas:

  • Improving water-use efficiency by 25 percent by 2020;

  • Treating all wastewater from our manufacturing processes to a level that supports aquatic life; and

  • Replenishing water in communities and nature through the support of healthy watershed and community water programs.

The Company is working with each of its Bottling Partners in South Africa - Coca-Cola Fortune, ABI, Coca-Cola Shanduka Beverages and Peninsula Beverages to assess the quality and quantity of water sources and implement comprehensive Source Water Protection Plans.

Globally, The Coca-Cola Company has improved its system-wide water efficiency for 10 straight years and achieved a previously set goal of improving water efficiency by 20 percent from 2004 to 2011. In its Southern Africa markets, the Company has reduced water use ratio which is the amount of water, in litres, used for every liter of finished beverage produced at its plants, from 3.08L/L in 2004 to 2.24L/L in 2013. This is an improvement of 27 percent across its bottling operations in Southern Africa.

The Company's wastewater treatment commitment is game-changing for the business and the beverage industry in general. Thanks to the significant efforts of its business system and bottling partners globally, more than US$1 billion has been invested over the past decade to align to The Coca-Cola Company's standards.

Since 2005, Coca-Cola has implemented a community initiative named RAIN, the Replenish Africa Initiative. The RAIN community water partnership projects in Southern African communities, increase access to clean water and include watershed protection, rainwater harvesting, reforestation and agricultural water use efficiency. The company has provided access to clean water for 322,732 individuals in South Africa. To date, over 55 percent of water used in finished beverages has been replenished.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million Africans lack access to safe drinking water and millions die each year from preventable waterborne illnesses. Coca-Cola Southern Africa Environmental and Occupational Safety and Health (EOSH) Manager, Irene Jacobs, indicates that pollution, population growth, poor waste disposal, poor water-management policies and climate change are some factors contributing to this challenge. Coca-Cola Southern Africa believes that these issues need to be tackled through private and public partnerships.

"At Coca-Cola, we often say that our business exists to benefit and refresh everyone who is touched by our business. Investing in the quality of life for these communities means giving them access to things such as water and sanitation, which are often taken for granted by others," added Jacobs.

The commitment to reducing water usage extends to Coca-Cola's bottling partners and plants. On an annual basis, Coca-Cola plants establish water stewardship goals and have put systems in place to monitor their water usage. The majority of bottling plants have already installed water meters and membrane technology that recycles water to reduce water use.

"We are working towards reducing our water-use ratio and recycling wastewater which can then be used for irrigation in farming and other agricultural projects. The aim for us is not only to replenish the same amount of water we use in our finished products, but rather to empower communities by giving them access to clean water and water for agriculture in order to grow economic sustainability," added Dennis.

"Limited access to water and the rate at which water is being used by organizations is no secret. At Coca-Cola, we realize that no single organization can resolve Africa's water challenges, but together, with a combination of civil society, non-governmental organizations and government, we can make a positive difference," concluded Jacobs.

About TheCoca-Cola Company

TheCoca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world's largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands. Led by Coca-Cola, one of the world's most valuable and recognizable brands, our Company's portfolio features 17 billion-dollar brands including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle. Globally, we are the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, ready-to-drink coffees, and juices and juice drinks. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy our beverages at a rate of 1.9 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our Company is focused on initiatives that reduce our environmental footprint, support active, healthy living, create a safe, inclusive work environment for our associates, and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. Together with our bottling partners, we rank among the world's top 10 private employers with more than 700,000 system associates. For more information, visit Coca-Cola Journey at www.thecoca-colacompany.com, follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/CocaColaCo, visit our blog, Coca-Cola Unbottled, at www.coca-colablog.com or find us on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/the-coca-cola-company.

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Published: 1 September 2014

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