Coca-Cola reports progress on environment, workers rights

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Coca-cola Company Coca-cola company

The environment, corporate governance and workers rights are
transforming the way managers oversee their global manufacturing
operations, as demonstrated in Coca-Cola's second report on its
progress in these areas.

The report, released this week, details Coca-Cola's progress in aligning operations towards meeting consumers and shareholder demands for multinationals to become more socially responsible in the communities.

By publishing such reports, companies are in a sense baring their corporate soul to the world.

It covers the year to July 2007 and indicates that Coca-Cola is now intent on driving down those values to its network of soft drink fillers and distributors.

Coca-Cola reported that in April 2007 management met for the first time with several of the company's largest bottlers to develop a core set of performance indicators for the filling and distribution system.

The outcome was the formation of working groups to determine how to collect economic and social data for use in setting targets.

Environmental data has already been collected.

Many of the company's bottlers already produce their own corporate responsibility reports, Coca-Cola noted.

The company also reported meeting with shareowners, partners, bottlers, suppliers, governments, non-governmental organizations, customers and consumers to get feedback on its progress on the issues.

The company said it was asked to better demonstrate the integration of corporate responsibility into its business strategy and to explain the Coca-Cola company franchise system.

The company was also asked to align business performance with clearly articulated internal and external standards or frameworks.

It was asked to include more third-party input and feedback, and provide more balanced reporting to include "the good and the bad".

The report emphasises Coca-Cola's commitment to using water more efficiently.

"This report cites many examples of that belief in action," the company stated.

"And we believe no issue is more important -or urgent - than access to clean, safe water for communities around the world."

In June 2007, the company pledged to replace every drop of water used in its beverages and their production.

"This goal is, admittedly, aspirational," Coca-Cola stated.

"It will be a multi-year journey for our company and our bottling partners."

The company reported using 288 billion liters of water in 2006, six per cent less than in 2002, and noted that changes in its product mix may result in more water use.

In July this year the company, along with Nestlé and SABMiller and others, signed a UN commitment to manage water use at manufacturing plants more efficiently.

Under the UN programme, called the CEO Water Mandate, company executives pledged to take immediate action to address the emerging global water crisis.

Together they launched a project designed to help companies better manage water use in their direct operations and throughout their supply chains.

The UN has pinpointed food and drink manufacturers as some of the largest uses of water resources worldwide.

In relation to workers' rights, the company launched a worldwide policy in January 2007.

The policy is based on principles developed by the United Nations International Labour Organisation and other human rights organisations.

The company has about 71,000 employees worldwide.

For management, the company has laid out corporate governance guidelines and a code of business conduct for bottlers and suppliers.

Coca-Cola began developing its environmental and corporate governance policies in early 2000, resulting in the company's identification in 2005 of five key areas for substainable growth.

The company's environmental efforts focus on water stewardship, sustainable packaging, and energy and climate protection.

The company is moving to reduce raw material and energy use in its manufacturing plants.

The company reported it has reduced energy use by 16 per cent since 2002, when it began reporting the figures publicly.

The company reported it is continuing to reduce its carbon footprint through the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC)-free vending machines and coolers.

In relation to packaging the company is investing in more polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle-to-bottle recycling plants in a bid to reduce waste.

The first plant opened in Australia in 1994.

The fifth such plant opened in Austria this year.

Yesterday, Coca-Cola Enterprises announced the launch of Coca-Cola Recycling in the US.

The Atlanta-based subsidiary will collect beverage packaging materials in North America for recycling within the Coca-Cola system.

As part of the strategy, the Coca-Cola Company also announced plans to build the world's largest plastic bottle-to-bottle recycling plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and revealed its goal to recycle and reuse all of its plastic packaging in the US.

In March 2006 the company signed a UN document to "embrace, support and enact" a set of core values in the areas of human rights, labor standards, the environment and anti-corruption.

Many of the company's bottling partners are also signatories to the same UN Global Compact, Coca-Cola reported.

In the UK Coca-Cola has signed a commitment to cut down on packaging and food waste.

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