Coca-Cola is introducing its first-ever water replenishment project in Belgium, made possible by financial support from The Coca-Cola Foundation. 

Launched in partnership with Belgian NGO Natuurpunt, the project aims to improve the water management in the Stappersven nature reserve, located near the Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) production plant in Wilrijk, in the Antwerp province. 

The 3,750-acre area, characterized by a diverse landscape of heathland, marshes and land dunes, is suffering from poor water quality and desiccation, which is threatening the reserve’s biodiversity. Over the course of five years, the project will restore indigenous vegetation, allowing rain water to easily penetrate the soil and replenish the groundwater levels. 

The Coca-Cola Foundation supports the project with €270,000 in funding, with the European Union providing an additional €270,000 in grants through its LIFE programme.    

Need for Action

Jeroen Langerock, PAC Director, Coca-Cola Belgium-Luxembourg, says there is a real need for this initiative. “In a country with as much rainfall as Belgium, people often think that water scarcity is not an issue," Langerock said. "But increasing agricultural water consumption and diminishing ground water nutrients due to pollution are threatening fresh water reserves in Belgium.”

Water replenishment volume through this project is estimated at 99,000,000 liters per year. This will not only see an increase in the reserve’s vegetation, but will also benefit bird species and other wildlife, such as the silver-studded blue butterfly, European viper, large white-faced darter and moor frog. 

Water Stewardship

The Stappersven area is part of a heathland park on the border of Belgium and the Netherlands and is considered one of Europe’s top nature reserves. It does not only serve as a home to rare flora and fauna, but also has an important historic and cultural value.   

In Belgium, Coca-Cola sells 915 million liters of beverages per year, consisting of 90 percent water. Therefore, water conservation is a primary focus of the company's sustainability strategy. 

Coca-Cola Belgium and Natuurpunt issued a joint press release announcing the project, along with a prominent feature in the NGO’s partner newsletter. Natuurpunt also took part in a recent stakeholder meeting on Coke's sustainability plan, focusing on its water strategy, in addition to other topics.  

“Through projects like this, we help raise awareness of our company’s sustainability strategy and commitment to reducing our water footprint,” says Jeroen. “By teaming up with local partners, we help establish our company as a credible partner to local communities and build corporate trust.” 

In 2020, Coca-Cola wants to replenish all the water we use in the production of its drinks. Today the company gives back 68 percent of the water used in its finished beverages globally, and 43 percent in the European Union. To date, Coca-Cola has 509 water replenishment projects in more than 100 countries.