Results of TNC- Coca-Cola collaboration

Coca-Cola’s sustainability program proposed to increase water efficiency during operation by 20 percent from 2004 to 2012, recycle water use at a level that supports aquatic life by the end of 2010, and offset the amount of water used in its production process by 2020.[1] To replenish the volume of water Coca-Cola has been using for finished beverages, their CWP projects embraced activities to increase water access and water filtration. In the first report of their partnership in 2011, TNC estimated that from 2008 to 2013, 320 CWP projects increased the water volume brought back for communities from 10 percent to nearly 40 percent of its production. [2] Coca-Cola succeeded in replenishing 42.8 billion liters of water, equal to 31 percent of the water used in the finished beverages, to communities and nature.[3] The outcomes reflected Coca-Cola’s efforts in providing local communities with access to water and sanitation, protecting watersheds, and increasing education and awareness. When Coca-Cola began to protect water resources, all three stakeholders including the Coca-Cola Company, local communities, and the environment could sustainably thrive together.

By pointing out the gains of Coca-Cola’s investment in preserving its natural capital, TNC was able to raise donations from the company for the establishment of watershed restoration projects in other places across the states. TNC restored natural habitat and replanted vegetation to reduce erosion and enhance the flow of groundwater in several watersheds, such as Etowah River, Flint River, Trinity River, and Paw Paw River, with 100 percent of Coca-Cola contribution.[4] Because TNC applied innovative natural-based solutions to water conservation, the contribution of Coca-Cola reinforces their social responsibility to nature.

Brian Richter, TNC Freshwater Program Co-Director, said that “More important than the numbers associated with a water footprint are the impacts of water use. When properly managed, even large volumes of water use can be sustainable in locations where the resource is sufficient to support the use and sustain ecological health.”[5] Richter affirmed the positive outcome of the partnership with Coca-Cola and the necessity of sustainable management of water resources. As open-access natural resources are often taken for granted, costs of overexploiting and benefits of conserving these resources (like freshwater) are often underestimated and overlooked by corporations. The measurement of water conservation benefits and the water footprint created incentives for Coca-Cola’s commitment to long-term sustainability and social responsibility.

[1] “The Water Stewardship and Replenish Report”. The Nature Conservancy and The Coca-Cola Company. January 2011. http://www.nature.org/media/companies/coke_replenish_report_2011.pdf

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Limno Tech. “Quantifying Watershed Restoration Benefits in Community Water Partnership Projects”. January 25, 2010: http://www.nature.org/media/companies/coke_watershed_restoration.pdf

[5] See note 1.

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