Big companies leave big footprints, right? It’s got to be tough to remain profitable, have good brand recognition, and have a positive impact on the environment. Sure, companies like IBM and Microsoft have been able to keep a good environmental record, but this can’t be expected of all companies, especially one that’s perennially held the top spot in Interbrand’s Top 100 Brands list. Coca-Cola has had a good couple of years in regards to brand recognition and profitability (they’re number 70 on the Fortune 500). But, is that enough? Shouldn’t they be working to be included on lists like Newsweek’s Green Rankings? After a bit of research, I’m going to tell you why Coca-Cola should be included on these lists, just like IBM and Microsoft.

In recent years, Coca-Cola has taken a number of environmental initiatives, including a water stewardship program. In March of this year, Coke released their Water Stewardship and Replenish Report. As a beverage industry titan, water is obviously an important part of the business. However, with their Water Stewardship program, they have made some strides. Their mission statement in the report is:

As a global water stewardship leader, Coca-Cola not only
conserves and manages water resources as a strategic business imperative, but as a vital
responsibility we have embraced around the world.

Among other goals, Coca-Cola aims to increase the dialogue around and improve conditions surrounding:

  • The need to address water risks for both communities and business
  • The nexus of climate, energy, water, and food
  • The ethics of water access and water rights
  • Innovative approaches to sustainable agriculture
  • The economic valuation of ecosystems and the services they provide
It’s nice enough that they are setting these goals, but how exactly have they done in fulfilling them? It seems as though they have done pretty well. For instance, Coke set a goal of a 20% reduction in water usage in their production and manufacturing processes. In 2012, water usage was at 2.17 liters of water per liter of beverage produced, which was down from 2.43 liters of water per liter of beverage in 2008, about halfway to their goal of 20%. Coca-Cola also aims to eventually return 100% of the water used in production back into the natural environment safely. In 2008, 95% of Coke’s unit case volume met the company’s internal wastewater standards, a 3% increase over 2007 even though unit production increased 5%. Lastly, Coca-Cola went into a $20 million dollar partnership with the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) in 2007 to help preserve seven of the world’s most critical freshwater basins. They also spent $30 million in 2009 on a program to provide drinkable water to African communities in it’s Replenish Africa Initiative, or RAIN.
Overall, Coca-Cola has put programs into place that will allow for sustainability for the future. There may be a bit more to be desired from current results, but you can’t deny that there have been positive results in programs that are still in initial stages. The Coca-Cola company has been working hard to preserve water reserves from the future and deserves to be recognized for their efforts.



One response »

  1. […] Best Post: Coca-Cola: Sustainability’s Over-Sized Underdog  […]

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