• Share

Collaborating to Replenish the Water We Use

Water Stewardship Report_Filling up Water

Goal:

By 2020, safely return to communities and nature an amount of water equal to what we use in our finished beverages and their production.

Progress:

On track. We estimate to have balanced 94 percent (153.6 billion liters) of the water used in our finished beverages (based on 2014 sales volume). Based on this performance, we believe we will meet this goal by the end of 2015.


In 2007, our system (the Company and our bottling partners) set an aspirational goal to safely return to communities and nature an amount of water equivalent to what is used in our beverages and their production by 2020.

Between 2005 and the end of 2014, we balanced an estimated 94 percent of the water used in our finished beverages based on 2014 sales volume, for a total of 153.6 billion liters of water replenished to communities and nature. We also refer to replenish as achieving ‘water balance.’

We are working toward water balance through diverse, locally focused community water projects that often grow out of the source water vulnerability assessments (SVA) conducted for each of our bottling plants. Those plans are built with the local community and often the projects we support are with local governments and other respected third-party partners. Pursuing these synergies among our source water protection and replenish programs enable us to identify and implement projects that support the sustainability of local watersheds and communities while mitigating risks to our business.

The projects we engage in typically have at least one of four objectives:

  • to improve safe access to water and sanitation;
  • to protect watersheds;
  • to provide water for productive use; and/or
  • to educate and raise awareness about water issues, including engagement on water policy.

In many cases, projects also help improve local livelihoods, help communities adapt to climate change, improve water quality and enhance biodiversity.

Since 2005, we have engaged in more than 500 projects in more than 100 countries and territories with partners such as WWF, USAID, The Nature Conservancy, Water for People, UN-HABITAT, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). To date, our initiatives for improving water access and sanitation alone are estimated to have benefited nearly 3 million people. To learn more about some of our key partnership focused on water, visit our water partner page.

Sustaining Water Balance Beyond Our Goal

Once we meet our goal of replenishing the water we use, which we expect will happen by the end of 2015, we won’t consider our work done. We plan to continue to balance the water we use over time—a complex and never-ending challenge.

Sustaining water balance will require us to continue to treat all process wastewater (water we use in our manufacturing process that we then return to nature after we treat it), even as our business grows and as government regulation of treatment becomes stricter in some parts of the world. And, we will need to sustain our community water projects to ensure they continue to deliver the intended benefits to people and nature. We also may need to keep implementing new projects to maintain the level of replenishment as our business grows.

See a recent blog post by our Chief Sustainability Officer and Senior Director of our Global Water Stewardship program for more details on our water replenishment.

Quantifying Replenishment: An Evolving Methodology

The Nature Conservancy, with support from LimnoTech and the Global Environment & Technology Foundation, helps us calculate the volume of water we have replenished using an approach based on widely accepted tools and methodologies. A joint, peer-reviewed paper explaining this context and application can be found here. For more about how we quantify replenishment, read our report, Quantifying Water Replenish Benefits in Community Partnership Projects.

The water footprint of growing agricultural ingredients sourced by the Coca-Cola system is not included in our water replenishment goal. However, sustainable water practices are part of Coca-Cola’s Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles required for suppliers. Replenish projects are implemented in the areas where the need is greatest and not necessarily to the aquifer from which the water was originally sourced. The projects are the result of partnerships with governments, civil society and other members of the private sector.
We only calculate replenishment credit for the portions of the project that are directly funded or instituted by the Coca-Cola system.