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Beyond Water: Coca-Cola Expands Partnership with WWF, Announces Ambitious Environmental Goals

By:  Jay Moye Jul 9, 2013

Coca-Cola and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are expanding their nearly decade-long partnership and announcing ambitious new global environmental conservation and performance goals.

Since 2007, the two partners have worked together to conserve and protect priority river basins and catchments around the world; to improve water efficiency and reduce carbon emissions across Coke’s manufacturing operations; and to promote sustainable agriculture throughout the company’s supply chain. The partnership has expanded from a headquarters-to-headquarters collaboration to nearly 50 countries, with Coca-Cola and WWF teams working together at the local level.

Through the expanded partnership, Coca-Cola and WWF jointly developed the following 2020 environmental sustainability goals for The Coca-Cola Company and its nearly 300 bottling partners in more than 200 countries:

1. Improve water efficiency by 25% through operational advancements. Coke will improve its water use efficiency per liter of product produced through operational advancements throughout its global system. This target compliments the 21.4% improvement in water use efficiency achieved from 2004 through 2012.

2. Help maintain healthy, resilient freshwater systems. Coca-Cola and WWF will expand their joint freshwater conservation efforts to 11 regions across five continents, including river basins of the Amazon, Koshi, Mekong, Rio Grande/Bravo, Yangtze and Zambezi; the catchments of the Great Barrier Reef and Mesoamerican Reef; and key regions in the Amur-Heilong, Atlantic Forests and Northern Great Plains.

3. Reduce CO2 emissions embedded in ‘the drink in your hand’ by 25%. Coca-Cola will work to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions across its value chain, making comprehensive carbon footprint reductions across its manufacturing processes, packaging formats, delivery fleet, refrigeration equipment and ingredient sourcing.

4. Responsibly source material for PlantBottle™ packaging. Coca-Cola will work with WWF to assess the environmental and social performance of plant-based materials for potential use in its renewable packaging. This will enable the company to meet its goal to use up to 30% plant-based material for all of its PET plastic bottles by 2020.

5. Sustainably source key agricultural ingredients. Coca-Cola will work to sustainably source its key ingredients, including cane sugar, beet sugar, corn, tea, coffee, palm oil, soy, pulp and paper fiber, orange, lemon, grape, apple and mango. Coca-Cola also has established Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles (download here), and will work with WWF to implement the guidelines throughout the global Coca-Cola system.

In addition, Coca-Cola is reaffirming its environmental goals for water replenishment and package recovery through 2020 to include:

6. Replenish 100% of water used. Coca-Cola will return treated water from its manufacturing processes back to the environment at a level that supports aquatic life and replenish the water used in its finished beverage products through continuing its community water projects with partners in more than 100 countries. To date, Coca-Cola’s replenishment work has balanced an estimated 52% of product volume through 468 projects.

7. Reach a 75% recovery rate of bottles and cans in developed markets. Coca-Cola will work with the beverage industry and local organizations to establish baseline information and work to increase recovery and recycling in developing markets. The company will continue to reduce the amount of material and energy used in its packaging, as well as continue to use both recycled and renewable content.

WWF recently presented Coca-Cola with its prestigious Gold Panda Award for partnering to protect the world’s natural resources. Carter Roberts, President and CEO, World Wildlife Fund, said the second phase of the partnership comes at a crucial time.

“We are witnessing unprecedented demands on natural resources around the world,” he explained. “Continuing with business as usual puts everything at risk, including the viability of business. These problems can only be solved by working together, and our work with Coca-Cola has proven that collaboration can amplify and accelerate the impact we need.”

Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola, agreed. “As we face a resource-stressed world with growing global demands on food and water, we must seek solutions that drive mutual benefit for business, communities and nature,” he said. “Working with WWF will continue to challenge our company to advance our sustainability programs, and WWF’s expertise will be instrumental in reaching our environmental performance goals, some of which they help us set.”

The next phase of the partnership will move beyond water conservation to address all natural resource challenges impacting fresh water. “We’re thinking about this in terms of ‘Water Plus’… water plus agriculture, water plus climate, water plus economy and water plus people,” explains Lindsay Bass, senior program director, WWF.

Coca-Cola and WWF will invite other influential partners to help tackle the world’s most pressing environmental challenges and to integrate the value of nature into decision-making processes.

“We plan to use the power of this partnership, which brings together the world’s most recognized commercial brand and the world’s most recognized conservation brand, to convene others to ignite a movement to elevate the critical importance of water resource management in the 21st century,” said Jeff Seabright, vice president of environment and water resources, Coca-Cola. “That’s the legacy we hope to leave.”

Have questions about Coke's new global environmental goals? Participate in a Twitter chat with Jeff Seabright on Wednesday, July 10, at 9:30 a.m. ET. Get the details here.

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