Coinciding with the launch of World Water Week (28 August-2 September), Coca-Cola has today announced that it has met its 2020 water replenishment goal five years early, giving just as much water back to communities and nature than it uses in its global production sites.

The company and its bottling partners have also today announced significant progress towards achieving its water efficiency goal, increasing its water use efficiency by 2.5% from 2014 to 2015 – a 24% rise since 2004.

‘Moment of pride’

According to a water-replenishment assessment conducted in association with The Nature Conserve (TNC), Coca-Cola replenished 191 billion litres of water through various CSR initiatives in 2015 – equating to roughly 115% of water used in Coca-Cola drinks last year.

Chairman and chief executive of the Coca-Cola Company Muhtar Kent said: “This achievement marks a moment of pride for Coca-Cola and our partners. A goal that started as aspiration in 2007 is today a reality and a global milestone we plan to maintain as our business grows.

“Now, every time a consumer drinks a Coca-Cola product, they can have confidence that our company and bottling partners are committed to responsible water use today and tomorrow. We are keenly aware that our water stewardship work is unfinished and remain focused on exploring next steps to advance our water programs and performance.”

Coca-Cola has partnered with 248 community water projects in 71 separate countries that aim to provide safe water access, watershed protection and other productive water uses. A lot of these initiatives provide sanitation, improve water quality and a variety of other sustainable benefits.

Partnerships matter’

These replenishment projects include the WWF global conservation programme; The Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN); the ‘every drop matters’ partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – the latter of which later became the “New World” partnership and the company’s investment in 50 separate water funds across 12 countries in Africa.

Commentign on Coca-Cola’s milestone, WWF chief executive Carter Roberts said: “All life depends on water, but less than 1% of the world’s water is fresh and accessible. From mountain glaciers to estuaries, we must account for the whole system if we hope to secure freshwater for all.

“This means partnerships matter. This is an important milestone in Coca-Cola’s continued leadership on water stewardship and sets a standard for other water users to build from.”

Through these replenishment strategies, Coca-Cola managed to return around 145.8 billion litres of water the company uses in its boiling processes back to watersheds near the company’s 835 boiling plants and treat it with wastewater processing in 2015.

World Water Week

This announcement coincides with the start of World Water Week – an international forum that promotes the exchange of views, experiences and practices around water related challenges and the impact they have on the environment. The event calls on the business, scientific, civic and policy communities to all take part in the exchange.

Other major drinks suppliers have also been ramping up efforts to boost water-saving initiatives. Earlier this month, Diageo noted substantial improvements in its water efficiency goals earlier this month, showing an increase of 12.5% efficiency in its latest CSR report.

Alex Baldwin

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