In its fifth annual ‘Global Water Stewardship and Replenish Report’, released last week to coincide with World Water Day 2012 (March 22), Coca-Cola outlines how it is working to reduce its water usage through the introduction of new technologies and collaborative partnerships.

Key figures from the 80-page document show a 20% improvement in water use efficiency is expected be achieved by the end of 2012, against a 2004 baseline, while 35% of replenished water is now used in finished beverages – a 16% improvement in water use ratio.

This follows on from a 2007 pledge to safely return to nature and local communities an amount of water equivalent to that used in drink production by 2020, as well as growing product volume while also improving efficiency.

It outlines how the use of ionized air instead of water to rinse product packages has made 60% of the water used in its bottles plants for processes more water efficient.

The report also reaffirms a number of existing targets, such as an ambition to recycle 100% of water used in manufacturing processes by ensuring the water returned to the environment supports aquatic life and boost awareness of water conservation. In 2010 it achieved a 96% recycling rate, which is expected to rise.

It also intends to link water stewardship to business growth by balancing global production volume with locally relevant water projects which deliver benefits of equal value as part of its global water stewardship goal.

Coca-Cola chief sustainability officer Bea Perez, said: “The future of communities, nature and business depends on responsible water management.

“To overcome today’s water challenges, we must all take extraordinary action. At Coca-Cola, we’re utilising innovative techniques and collaborating through world-class partnerships to ensure the sustainability of this precious shared resource.”

To support its long-term water stewardship objectives, Coca-Cola has engaged with nearly 400 community watership partnership projects, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society and companies across the world.

The range of projects includes watershed protection, access to water and sanitation, water for productive use, such as agricultural water efficiency and education and awareness programmes.

Carys Matthews

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