For Coca-Cola, water is at the heart of our business. In addition to being our primary ingredient, water is 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 and communities, critical to ecosystems and indispensable for economic prosperity—all things our business requires.
We have a special interest in protecting local water sources that sustain communities because we share those very sources with the communities where we operate. The communities that host our bottling plants are also our consumer base, our marketplace—we almost always sell our products where we make them. So, our water stewardship program is grounded in responsibility, but we also have a vested business interest. If communities stay strong, our business will stay strong; if the watersheds we share with them are conserved, those communities, and our business, can thrive.
It is clear that water, energy and food sources are inextricably linked—activities that affect one of these resources will inevitably affect the others. Water is used in vast quantities in many phases of the lifecycle of both energy and food production. In order to understand and address the stresses on water use related to our business, it is important for The Coca-Cola Company to contribute to the understanding of the complex relationships among agricultural production, water use and energy generation. We must also analyze both the impacts and dependencies of this complex relationship on our business. Our evolving understanding has led to the current development of an integrated Water-Energy-Food Nexus approach, which allows us to more effectively mitigate the growing stresses on all of these precious resources. [i]
While water stress and challenges continue to grow, we believe the world has enough fresh water to meet growing demands if water is correctly managed and respected. As a global system with operations in more than 200 countries and territories, we focus our water stewardship efforts on the areas where we can have the greatest impact:
- Improving our overall water-use efficiency;
- Managing wastewater and stormwater discharge at our plants;
- Mitigating risk through partnering with governments, NGOs and communities to assess, understand and chart effective, long-term water stress solutions, and implementing source water protection plans;
- Replenishing the water we use back to communities and nature.
As a system, we’ve achieved impressive results but we realize there’s more work to do. We are collectively focused on executing measures that will positively impact water challenges and help address development barriers related to water and safe water access. In fact, we recently announced the expansion of our Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) to reach 6 million people with safe water access by 2020. This program is specifically designed to address development barriers in Africa and aligns with the goals outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be adopted by the United Nations in September 2015. It is one example of many programs we are actively engaged in to support safe water and sanitation access (WASH)
The Coca-Cola Company respects the human need [C1] for safe drinking water and the need to protect both ecosystems and communities through proper sanitation. We have devoted considerable efforts to defining our operational practices, and we remain engaged in internal and external discussions about what it means in practice to respect these rights. [ii]
We have found that collaboration is key to achieve results. We actively collaborate with partners across the Golden Triangle of business, government and civil society on WASH programs, ecosystem protection, and to advocate for needed water policy and action to protect water availability and quality around the world. An overview of all of our major partnerships can be found here.
Our approach to water stewardship includes a commitment to engage with diverse stakeholders our programs, performance and water issues that impact all users. Stakeholder engagement takes place in a variety of formal and informal settings across the entire Coca-Cola system, informing our decision making and helping us continuously improve and make progress toward our 2020 goals. We also collaborate with other public and private sector companies to achieve greater results and benchmark our work and disclosure. In 2007, we became one of the first six companies to commit to the CEO Water Mandate. The CEO Water Mandate is a unique public - private initiative designed to assist companies in the development, implementation and disclosure of water sustainability policies and practices. Companies that endorse the mandate are required to report progress annually against a set of standard principles. Our reporting against these principles is noted here. You also can view our progress in our GRI G4 Report.
Direct responsibility for water stewardship resides in our Office of Sustainability, reporting to our Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO). Execution of our water stewardship strategy is through our safety and environment team, reporting to our Chief Technical Officer (CTO). Both the CSO and CTO are members of the Company’s Operating Committee and have a voice in business operations. Our Chairman, Board of Directors and other company leadership are routinely briefed on our water risks, strategy, goals and management plans.
Our Water Goals
Replenish: By 2020, safely return to communities and nature an amount of water equal to what we use in our finished beverages and their production.
Efficiency: By 2020, improve water efficiency in manufacturing operations by 25% compared with a 2010 baseline.
Read more about how we are managing global water resources:
- Our Progress: Collaborating to Replenish the Water We Use
- Our Progress: Improving Water Efficiency
- Wastewater: Safely Returning the Water We Use to Make Our Beverages
- Mitigating Water Risk for Communities and for Our System
- Partnering to Advance Water Stewardship
- Inside the Bottle: Things You Want Us to Answer Around Water
- Meet Our Experts