“We met our replenishment goal through diverse, locally focused community water projects that often grew out of the source water vulnerability assessments (SVA) conducted for each of our bottling plants,” Coca-Cola said in a press release on Monday.
Replenishment program is a direct response to criticism
Coca-Cola has had to continually respond to criticism that it sources its water for beverage products in an unsustainable way. One consumer group called the War on Want launched a campaign titled “Coca-Cola: Drinking the world dry” claiming that Coca-Cola has exacerbated water shortages in regions that suffer the most from a lack of water resources.
Coca-Cola started its replenishment program in 2005 with the goal of replenishing its total water use by 2020 through community water projects in 71 countries.
“We believe our business can operate within a community facing water stress as long we have the right programs in place and work closely with the community and other water users to evaluate and monitor source water availability,” Bea Perez, Coca-Cola’s chief sustainability officer, and Greg Koch, senior director of Global Water Stewardship program said in a blog post.
“Thus, we closely monitor the impact of our water use, and require our nearly 900 system-wide plants to comprehensively evaluate local source water vulnerabilities and risk.”
Despite reaching its water replenishment goal five years before its deadline, Coca-Cola said it will continue to work to sustain community water projects and expand into new countries where the need is the greatest.
An evolving methodology
The Nature Conservancy, with support from LimnoTech and the Global Environment & Technology Foundation, helped Coca-Cola develop methodologies to calculate the volume of water we have replenished.
“Replenish calculations may evolve over time as we gain experienced insights into project results and more companies embrace similar programs,” the company said in a statement.
Coca Cola also noted that the water footprint of growing agricultural ingredients sourced by the company is not included in its water replenishment goal.