Coca-Cola Co. and its global bottling partners (known as the Coca-Cola system) announced Aug. 25 they are on track to meet their goal of globally replenishing 100 percent of the water used to make their products by the end of this year, five years ahead of the 2020 goal the company set in 2007.
The Coca-Cola system returned approximately 126.7 billion liters -- an estimated 94 percent – of the water used in its manufacturing processes back to communities and nature through treated wastewater in 2014. Those last six percentage points should come this year. The combined efforts put Coca-Cola on track to be the first global food & beverage company to replenish all the water it uses back to communities and nature.
“There is no resource more precious to human life and the health of our global ecosystems and economies than water," said Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO. "As a consumer of water, the Coca-Cola system has a special responsibility to protect this shared resource. This is why we set an aspirational goal of being water neutral by 2020" back in 2007.
Coca-Cola is able to give back the amount of water equivalent to what it uses in its finished beverages and their production through replenishment projects, increasing water use efficiency in its plants and returning water to watersheds and municipalities through wastewater treatment. Part of meeting its replenishment goal is engaging in diverse, locally focused community water projects. Each project works toward set objectives, such as providing or improving access to safe water and sanitation, protecting watersheds, supporting water conservation and raising awareness on critical local water issues.
Once projects are established, the company and its bottling partners work to ensure those projects remain sustainable within communities over time and continue to replenish water. These efforts, as well as new projects, frequently address local source water vulnerabilities and balance additional sales volume as Coca-Cola’s business continues to grow each year.
“More and more companies now recognize that factoring nature into their decision-making is a smart business strategy," said Mark Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy (TNC). "Coca-Cola’s commitment to water underscores that investing in nature can produce very positive returns for businesses and local communities.”
TNC was an instrumental partner in designing the methodology to quantify Coca-Cola’s water replenishment efforts. The methodology for calculating water replenishment benefits also was the subject of scientific technical peer review to verify the use of generally accepted methods and accuracy for the foregoing purpose. Projects are reviewed annually and evaluated using this methodology. An overview of each project and their respective replenishment value is included in the company’s 2015 replenishment verification report prepared by LimnoTech and verified by Deloitte.
Two major contributors to Coca-Cola’s water replenishment activities are The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation’s Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) and the company’s Every Drop Matters partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Through RAIN, Coca-Cola partners with Global Environment & Technology Foundation (GETF), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), Millennium Challenge Corporation, WaterAid, Water for People, and other organizations and local governments to bring safe drinking water to an estimated 6 million Africans by 2020.
Through Every Drop Matters, Coca-Cola and UNDP have worked together to improve safe water access for more than an estimated 1 million people in Eastern Europe and the Middle East with projects focused on watershed restoration, sustainable agriculture, infrastructure improvements and advocating for needed water policy.