As a global leader in the beverage industry, water quality and availability are vital to our business. Water is the primary ingredient in the majority of our products, central to our manufacturing process, and necessary to grow the agricultural ingredients on which we rely. Safe, accessible water is also essential to the health of people, communities, ecosystems, and economies—important considerations for business growth.

While water stress and challenges remain critical areas of concern, we believe the world has enough fresh water to meet growing demands if correctly managed and respected. As we work to establish a more sustainable business on a global scale, we have focused our water stewardship efforts on the areas where we can have the greatest impact: improving water-use efficiency and reuse, managing wastewater and stormwater discharge, mitigating water risk, replenishing the water we use in our finished beverages, and helping manage water resources in our agricultural ingredient supply chain.

"In 2016, we continued to replenish 100% of the water used in our finished beverages back to communities and nature, a goal we first met in 2015."

The foundation of our water stewardship work is our comprehensive risk mitigation strategy. In order to source water responsibly and manage risks for our business and communities, we need to have a clear understanding of where our water comes from, the availability of water supplies in communities, the current and expected future stresses on the water supply (both as to quantity and quality), and the roles we can play in helping address the shared challenges in watersheds where we operate. We do this by conducting global, plant-level water risk assessments and by requiring each of the more than 800 Coca-Cola system facilities to assess local vulnerabilities and to implement plans to address them.

Continuing to Replenish the Water We Use

In 2016, we continued to replenish 100 percent of the water used in our finished beverages back to communities and nature, a goal we first met in 2015. Projects implemented by the end of 2016 are replenishing 221 billion liters per year through community and watershed projects globally, as estimated with the help of our many reputable partner organizations using peer reviewed scientific and technical methods.

The replenish projects we support focus on improving safe access to water and sanitation; protecting watersheds; or providing water for productive use. Replenish volume contributions from these projects are 6 percent for safe access to water and sanitation; 79 percent for protecting watersheds; and 15 percent for water for productive use. Initiatives for helping communities gain sustained access to safe drinking water are estimated to have benefited nearly 3 million people as of the end of 2016.

Contributing greatly to our replenish results are our Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) and our New World partnership. At the end of 2016, RAIN had provided safe drinking water to more than 2.5 million people in Africa and supported water, sanitation and hygiene programs in over 2,000 communities across 37 African countries. And, New World, our expanded partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has invested in 44 projects across 19 countries since its launch in 2014. It is directly providing access to improved water, sanitation and enhanced water management to 150,000 people, while indirectly benefiting the lives of an additional 600,000 people in surrounding communities.

These community water projects, some you can learn about through our Water Map, are conducted with the expertise and support of many critical partners such as World Wildlife Fund (WWF), USAID, The Nature Conservancy, Water For People, Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), Global Water Challenge, UN-HABITAT, and UNDP.

Improving Our Water-Use Efficiency

By 2020, we aim to reduce our water-use ratio while growing our unit case volume, with a target to improve water efficiency by 25 percent over 2010 levels. In 2016, our water efficiency improved for the 14th consecutive year, with a 1 percent improvement over 2015 and a 27 percent improvement since 2004.

In 2004, we were using 2.7 liters of water to make 1 liter of product. That means that 1 liter of water was in the product and another 1.7 liters was used in the manufacturing process, mostly for keeping equipment clean. At the end of 2016, we were using 1.96 liters of water to make 1 liter of product, with the goal to reduce it to 1.7 liters of water by 2020.

Innovating Beyond Products

While innovation is often associated with our products, it’s something we strive for across the entire business, including in water stewardship. As one of 16 public and private partner organizations, we are supporting work on the Cedar River in Iowa to quantify how better watershed management upstream can provide improved water quality to communities downstream. This involves cutting-edge scientific analysis of best management practices to ensure project investment achieves the most impact.

We’re also aiming to integrate the frontline methods of natural capital and ecosystem services to better understand the benefits of different types of water resource interventions and better evaluate and target investment and engagement in the future.

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