After being banned in Kerala, India, for causing water shortages, Coca-Cola joined up with government and non-profit partners to adopt environmentally friendly practices, and cut its water use by a fifth. The company has now invested $30 million in reaching water neutrality by 2020, and works with USAID to champion access to clean drinking water in underdeveloped communities.
Results & Impact
Coca-Cola improved its worldwide water efficiency by 20% from 2004 to 2013. Its global water use ratio is down from 2.7 litres of water used per litre of product in 2004 to 2.1 in 2012. Coca Cola is collaborating with USAID on 400 community water projects, which have altogether helped 1 million people
Coca-Cola, United States Agency for International Development, World Wildlife Foundation
Coca-Cola worked with World Wildlife Fund to develop less wasteful water stewardship and reach total water neutrality by 2020. To overhaul its practices, Coca Cola looked at internal processes and created a water stress map, demonstrating to individual managers that tackling the problem was a financial necessity. The company partnered with USAID to create and finance sustainable hydropower, water accessibility and hydro-infrastructure initiatives for underdeveloped communities
Rural population, low-income people
Cost & Value
Coca Cola has invested $30 million in water sustainability over 14 years
Running since 2006
The WFF was initially hesitant to work with Coca-Cola because it opposed some of its business practices. When several national chapters expressed skepticism about aligning themselves with the brand, Coca-Cola reached out to their leaders personally. By addressing concerns one-on-one, Coca-Cola was able to learn about how their water programs are perceived and express its commitment to quickly implementing and scaling solutions to reduce environmental impact
When Coca-Cola was banned from the Indian state of Kerala for causing water shortages, the company partnered with public and non-profit organisations to cut its water use worldwide by a fifth.
Coca-Cola teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to find ways of becoming less wasteful in its water use, and has now invested $30m million to try to become “water neutral” by 2020. It then also partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to launch water conservation projects in the areas where it operates. These encompass seven river basins and 400 community water projects in 100 countries, which have altogether helped one million people.
The company improved its water efficiency by 20% from 2004 to 2013, and aims to reach water neutrality by 2020. Its global water use ratio is down from 2.7 litres of water used per litre of product in 2004 to 2.1 in 2012.
To overhaul its water stewardship, Coca-Cola looked at internal processes. The company designed a questionnaire, completed by 94% of its plant operators, to assess water supply reliability, efficiency, compliance and other factors. The company then created a water stress map that demonstrated that 39% of its production was created in areas with water shortages, and that these areas were some of the most financially promising. In this way it made managers realise the urgency of dealing with the water problem.
In 2005, Kerala accused Coca-Cola of creating severe water shortages in the southern state by using large amounts for its factory – which also produced a significant amount of pollution. After a series of protests from villagers, the state banned the conglomerate from operating within its jurisdiction.
The incident woke Coca-Cola up to its worldwide environmental practices. Through its collaboration with USAID and WFF, the company has created sustainable hydropower, water accessibility and hydro-infrastructure initiatives in locations where Coca-Cola operates. USAID and Coca-Cola formed the Water and Development Alliance (WADA), a partnership dedicated to improving clean water access in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
For example, in Chimoio, Mozambique, WADA rehabilitated a dilapidated water treatment facility and expanded its piped water network, which provides for 25,000 residents. In Kano State, Nigeria, WADA worked with local non-profit the Women Farmer’s Advancement Network to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene services for 65,000 people. WADA operates in more than 100 countries in Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia.
The World Wildlife Fund helped Coca-Cola reduce its environmental impact by providing expertise. The WFF was initially difficult to bring on board, because it opposed some of Coca-Cola’s business practices. When several national chapters expressed hesitation about aligning themselves with the brand, Coca-Cola reached out to their leaders personally. By addressing concerns one-on-one, Coca-Cola was able to learn about how their water programs are perceived and express its commitment to quickly implementing and scaling solutions to reduce environmental impact.
The company also made amends in India: Coca-Cola invested $5 billion in the country in 2012. Local traders in Kerala and neighbouring Tamil Nadu have nevertheless boycotted the company’s products, accusing it of using too much water.
(Picture credit: Flickr/Sharad Haksar)