WWF and Coca-Cola announce partnership to conserve freshwater resources
Beijing, China – The Coca-Cola Company has launched a multi-year partnership with WWF to conserve and protect freshwater resources, including seven of the world’s most important freshwater river basins.
“We are focusing on water because this is where The Coca-Cola Company can have a real and positive impact,” E. Neville Isdell, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, told WWF’s annual meeting in Beijing.
“Our goal is to replace every drop of water we use in our beverages and their production. For us that means reducing the amount of water used to produce our beverages, recycling water used for manufacturing processes so it can be returned safely to the environment, and replenishing water in communities and nature through locally relevant projects.”
In 2006, The Coca-Cola Company and its franchised bottlers used approximately 290 billion litres of water for beverage production, an amount equivalent to roughly one-half the annual water use in the metropolitan area of the company’s headquarters, Atlanta, Georgia. Of that amount, approximately 114 billion litres were contained in the company’s broad portfolio of beverages sold in markets around the world, and another 176 billion litres were used in beverage manufacturing processes such as rinsing, cleaning, heating and cooling.
As part of its US$20 million pledge, Coca-Cola will support more efficient water management in its operations and global supply chain, and reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
“The Coca-Cola Company is answering the call to help solve the global freshwater crisis through this bold partnership,” said James Leape, Director General of WWF International. “The company is stepping into new and uncharted territory, and we look forward to working together to meet the bold commitments they have made to water stewardship.”
Reduce, recycle, replenish
As part of its commitment, Coca-Cola will set specific water efficiency targets for global operations by 2008 to achieve best in class performance among peer companies. These targets will build on improvements already made by the company and its bottlers in water-use efficiency over the past five years, a period where total water use has decreased by 5.6% while sales volume has increased by 14.6%. In that same period, water efficiency improved 18.6%.
The company will also align its entire global system in returning all water that it uses for manufacturing processes to the environment at a level that supports aquatic life and agriculture by the end of 2010. While water is treated currently to comply with local regulations and standards, Coca-Cola has written wastewater treatment standards that are more stringent than applicable standards in some parts of the world.
And Coca-Cola will expand support of healthy watersheds and sustainable communities to balance the water used in its finished beverages. Engagement will include a wide range of locally relevant initiatives, such as watershed protection, community water access, rain water harvesting, reforestation and agricultural water use efficiency.
Numerous projects are already underway. Currently, Coca-Cola has community and watershed programmes in 40 countries focused on education and awareness, productive water use, watershed management and water supply, sanitation and hygiene. The company also has some 300 rainwater harvesting structures throughout its global operations.
“Society is just beginning to understand the world’s water challenges,” continued Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Isdell.
“No single company or organization has all of the answers or holds ultimate responsibility, but we all can do our part to conserve and protect water resources. Our company will need time and cooperation from our bottlers, our suppliers and our conservation partners to accomplish the goal of replacing the water we use. We will be open about our progress and engage others to better understand what it takes.”
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