Coca-Cola reforms to tap water sustainability calls

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Water, Water supply, Coca-cola

Coca-Cola today pledged to overhaul how it uses water
throughout its operations and bottling franchises in a drive for
greater environmental sustainability.

With growing concern over the impact of food and beverage processing on the environment, governments and consumers are demanding manufacturers use more efficient production methods to reduce the strain on resources. To better meet these calls, Coca-Cola has unveiled a $20m investment programme in conjunction with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF). Through the cooperation Coca-Cola will aim to improve water use with a three part focus on reduced use, recycling and replenishing within the supply chain. In terms of reduction, like many of its rivals, TCCC has already begun trying to cut down on water usage, and by 2008 will set itself specific targets on efficiency to ensure it continues to cut down capacity requirements. In the last five years, though the group's sales volumes have increased by 14.6 per cent, it has managed to reduce water use for according to its figures. Besides simply reducing the amount of water used in the manufacture of its products, the company will also step up recycling to reduce the agricultural impact of its operations. Though TCCC estimates that about 85 per cent of its operations return water used for manufacturing to the environment following treatment, by 2010 it hope to have extended the process to all of its production methods. The final focus will concentrate on community initiatives within its sourcing practices, from expanding rain water harvesting, to establishing greater sanitisation and education programmes within every community it works with. TCCC has also agreed to repopulate 3,000 hectares of rainforest in Brazil. Outside of its own production, the group will also move to bring reform to its supply and packaging chains, by adopting practices supported by WWF on sourcing and cultivation of raw materials like sugar cane. Carter Roberts, WWF US president, welcomed Coca-Cola's strategy as an important step in the battle against the detrimental climatic change. "The water crisis is as important as climate change,"​ he stated. "Thousands of people die each day from polluted water. Freshwater species are more at risk for extinction."​ With climate change also expected to exacerbate water stocks globally in coming years both TCCC and WWF will also cooperate on reducing harmful emissions and other factors linked to drought. However, TCCC is not the only company who have prioritised reforms sustainable to water usage. Earlier this year, a management report issued by Nestlé said its factories worldwide had cut water use to 155 billion litres in 2006, from 218 billion litres in 1998. In 2006, about 100 factories had reduced their total water use by the company's plan to cut 3 per cent off consumption per tonne of product per year, the company reported.

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