Cola-Cola’s water-neutral aims hinge on building ‘smarter’ supply chain

Cola-Cola's executive vice president Alex Cummings has said that water is the "single most important environmental issue" for the company as it looks to make its global operations water-neutral by 2020.

Talking about the latest sustainability progress Coca-Cola is making within its supply chain, Cummings said that water formed the “core ingredient” and that its goal in seven years’ time was to “give back an amount of water that equals all the water we use in our products and their production”.

Through reduction and recycling measures, the company has reduced water consumption 20% since 2004 and is 99% towards meeting stringent standards for wastewater treatment.

“Since 2005, we also have launched 500 water program partnerships in 100 countries where the need is greatest,” Cummings added. “Replenishment now accounts for 52% of the water we use in our finished beverages.”

Coca-Cola is firmly putting supply chain dynamics at the heart of its sustainability strategy going forward as it feels this will be the key differentiator for future growth, or as Cummings puts it, building “brand love”.

“We believe an agile supply chain is at the heart of our ability to live up to a new age of expectations … our supply chain is key to winning a multi-level chess game where the squares are in motion and the rules are in a state of constant change,” he maintained.

Coke’s $64bn supply chain covers more than 900 manufacturing facilities, 270 bottling partners and more than 20 million customer outlets.

Maxine Perella

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