As a responsible corporate citizen, Coca-Cola considers water conservation a key part of its overall strategy.
Coca-Cola is the world’s largest beverage maker, and water is at the heart of just about everything the company does. Coke not only sells water, and water-based beverages but it also uses water in key production processes at its 900 bottling plants, including rinsing and cleaning. So finding ways to conserve water is no small task.
Coca Cola was one of six companies in 2007 that signed onto the CEO Water Mandate. The mandate is a United Nations initiative that seeks to develop and implement global water management practices. In addition to reducing water consumption, Coke and the other signatories have agreed to consider water conservation when making key corporate decisions, including where new facilities open.
Coke’s water conservation efforts focus on three broad pillars: reduce, recycle and replenish.
Reduce water usage
Coke has committed to improving water use efficiency by 20 percent by 2012, compared with its 2004 usage. Indeed, it wants to be the most efficient water consumer among its peers in the beverage industry.
Coke partnered with the World Wildlife Fund to develop a water efficiency toolkit to educate bottlers about best water usage practices. In 2008, the company used 2.43 liters of water to produce one liter of beverage. One liter of water is for the drink itself, and the remaining water is used during the manufacturing process. By 2012, the company plans to reduce that number to 2.17 liters of water per liter of beverage produced.
Coke has set an ambitious goal for itself this year. It plans to return 100 percent of the water it uses in manufacturing its beverages to the environment in a way that won't harm aquatic life. And it plans to do so by the end of 2010.
According to Coke, as much as 70 percent of wastewater created by all industries is not treated before it’s discharged into the atmosphere. Coke, by contrast, builds wastewater treatment facilities in the developing world when a municipal one does not already exist. It also uses some of the wastewater it treats at its plants to cover landscape irrigation, and to provide water for boilers and evaporators at its bottling operations.
Replenish rivers and watersheds
Coke doesn’t think it’s enough to reduce water usage, and treat and recycle water from manufacturing operations. It also strives to increase global support of watersheds and sustainable community water partnerships.
The company is trying to do what it can to help the estimated 1 billion people all over the world who don’t have access to safe drinking water. Since 2005, Coke has been involved in more than 250 community water partnerships in 70 countries that support such vital activities as watershed protection, access to water and sanitation, and efficient water practices in agriculture.
Coke has a multi-faceted partnership with the WWF. Through one initiative, Coke has committed $20 million over several years to help conserve seven river basins around the world that are under stress, including the Yangtze and Mekong River
For more information on Coca-Cola and water conservation, please visit the environmental water conservation section of the company's website.
Editor's note: Coca-Cola is a Mother Nature Network sponsor.