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Coca-Cola Misses Water Replenishment Goal

The Coca-Cola Company has missed a goal to return to the environment all water used in its manufacturing process, but is on track to improve its water use ratio 20 percent by 2012.

The company’s seventh sustainability report (pdf) says Coca-Cola missed a goal of, by 2010, returning all water used in its manufacturing process to the environment at a level that supports aquatic life.

In 2009, Coca-Cola released 179 billion liters of treated wastewater back to the environment, and 89 percent of its facilities—representing 95 percent of product volume—were compliant with its internal wastewater treatment standards.

The report does not have final data for 2010, but Coca-Cola said it estimates that 94 percent of facilities would have been compliant by the end of 2010, with work underway to make remaining plants compliant by the end of this year.

“Significant challenges have had an impact on our system achieving 100 percent compliance,” the report said, but did not elaborate on what those challenges were.

Coca-Cola has launched a system-wide water resource standard, requiring each of its more than 900 bottling plants to develop a source water protection plan by 2013.

The company says that it intends to attain a 2020 goal of replenishing all water used in its finished beverages.

Its initial estimates indicate that the equivalent of 22 percent of water used in its drinks was replenished through projects completed or ongoing in 2009.

The report also says that in 2009 Coca-Cola achieved its seventh consecutive year of improving water-use efficiency, with a water use ratio of 2.36 liters of water per liter of product produced – a 2.9 percent improvement from 2009.

This represents a 13 percent reduction since 2004, putting the company on track to meet its goal of improving the water ratio by 20 percent by 2012, compared to a 2004 baseline.

Other highlights of the report:

  • Coca-Cola improved energy use efficiency two percent from 2008 to 2009, and 13 percent from 2004 to 2009.
  • But system-wide energy use has increased every year from 2005 to 2009, with a 0.8 percent increase in the year to 2009.
  • Coca-Cola has installed 3.1 million intelligent energy management devices to reduce energy consumption by refrigeration units
  • It has placed more than 127,000 hydrofluorocarbon-free (HFC-free) refrigeration systems, bringing total placement to more than 240,000 units, and is working to phase out the use of HFCs in all new cold drink equipment as of 2015.
  • Coca-Cola says it is on track to meet a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in developed countries by 5 percent from 2004 to 2015.
  • In 2009 the company avoided the use of approximately 85,000 metric tons of primary packaging through system-wide packaging efficiency efforts, resulting in estimated cost savings of more than $100 million.

A summary of the company’s fifth sustainability report can be found here.

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One thought on “Coca-Cola Misses Water Replenishment Goal

  1. Hi, Lisa here from Coca-Cola. Thanks for sharing information about our latest sustainability review. I’d like to offer a quick clarification about progress on our water goals, including our goal for wastewater treatment.

    Our global goal is to ‘give back’ an amount of water equivalent to what we use in all of our products and their production by 2020.

    To achieve this goal, we’re focusing efforts in three areas:

    1) Improving water use efficiency by 20 percent by 2012 (baseline 2004);
    2) Treating all wastewater from our manufacturing processes to stringent internal standards; and
    3) Replenishing water in communities and nature through the support of healthy watersheds and community water programs.

    We’re on track in our efforts focused on efficiency and on track in our efforts focused on replenishment.

    We’ll hit our wastewater goal about a year behind our target (in 2011 versus 2010).

    Some background on this topic — all of our bottling plants (and we have 900+ of them in some 200 countries) align their treatment protocols with local requirements. What many people don’t know is that some 70 percent of industrial wastewater in developing countries is released untreated. We believe industry needs to take action to change this poor practice. That’s why we set the target for our global operations. We’ve made very significant investments to align our system around our wastewater treatment goal and while we’re a little behind in hitting this internal goal, we’re pleased with the progress our system has made to date. And importantly, we’re staying focused to ensure all of our bottling plants are aligned in 2011.

    For anyone interested, you can learn more about our global water stewardship efforts in our new water report which is available on our website at http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/citizenship/water_main.html

    Cheers!

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