Coca-Cola goes beyond its water stewardship goals by strengthening efforts to provide water access to communities, replenishing water used in operations

Water is a very important resource as it is used for almost everything we do–from personal hygiene, hydration, to agricultural activities–but the importance of water, protecting it, and making sure everyone has equitable access to it has been brought to the forefront with the challenges the pandemic has brought, especially since access to water for sanitation and proper handwashing is crucial in stemming the spread of the COVID-19 infections.

With the heightened need to protect our water resources, the Company continues to make a difference by honoring its ongoing commitment as water stewards while creating a lasting positive impact on communities, the environment, and its business.

“Water stewardship has always been part of the company DNA and we are committed to continue using this crucial resource responsibly, protect local water sources, and provide water access to communities that need it,” said Antonio “Tony” del Rosario, President Coca-Cola Philippines and VP Franchise Operations East (PH, VN, KH)

Efficient water management in manufacturing

The use of water is central to the production of beverages—and with a vast national footprint and operating 20 plants across the Philippines, Coca-Cola Beverages PH, the bottling arm of Coca-Cola in the country, ensures that water use in plants is managed responsibly. Comprehensive strategies are in place to ensure this is achieved, supported by advanced technology and infrastructure. 

Strategies include Water Savings Initiatives (WSI) to ensure that we continuously improve our water use ratio (WRU) or the amount of water used per liter of beverage manufactured. For instance, we are strengthening systems for water-intensive processes such as optimizing bottle-washing and reducing backwashing (or washing impurities and suspended solids in its tanks). Moreover, all of Coca-Cola’s manufacturing sites are equipped with state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facilities that process and convert used water into a quality that is viable for return to the ecosystem.

“Sustainability is integral to how we do business—it’s not just a nice feature to have, but it is embedded in our operations. We work hard to continuously improve the systems we have so we can responsibly manage our footprint—from water use to energy consumption, from fleet management to packaging,” said Gareth McGeown, President and CEO of CCBPI. “We’ve hit a lot of milestones, but we know there’s a long way to go,” adds McGeown.

These initiatives have led CCBPI to save more than 7.96 billion liters of water from 2014 to the present and reduce absolute water consumption in operations by 31%.

This sustainable approach in water allows the Company to produce its well-loved beverages and refresh more people in the Philippines as it supports community efforts and work with relevant stakeholders to protect water resources.

Providing clean water access, education to underserved communities

In a country where nearly 5 million rely on unsafe and unsustainable water sources, the Company’s sustainability efforts are focused on protecting watersheds and making safe water accessible to water-stressed communities through its Agos program.  

“The Agos program serves one of the communities’ basic needs – water, improving quality of life with enough hydration, proper hygiene and sanitation, farming and irrigation support, watershed support and more economic opportunities”, said Ma. Cecilia Alcantara, Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines, Inc. (CCFPI) President.

The Agos Program has benefited an estimated number of 290,000 Filipinos in 270 underserved communitiesincluding those in Negros Occidental, Camarines Sur, Surigao del Norte, Bukidnon, and other areas of Mindanao.  With the help of simple and sustainable water systems like hydraulic ram pumps, gravity systems, and rainwater collection systems, they are given the opportunity to have more time for their economic and livelihood activities rather than hiking and getting water from lowlands or highlands.

The program also provided a year’s worth of water supply to more than 6,000 farmers, allowing them to sustain their livelihood while teaching them how to manage their water resources.

The Foundation, together with local government units and partner organizations, is providing of total of 141 handwashing stations nationwide in high traffic public areas to promote proper handwashing, which is doubly more important as proper hygiene and sanitation is recommended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases, in partnership with CCBPI, USAID, and Water and Life Philippines. The Coca-Cola Foundation (Global) also provided a grant to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for safe water access to at least 45,000 internally displaced persons in communities in Mindanao.

Protecting the environment through watershed rehabilitation

While providing access to water is important, it is also equally important that watersheds are protected, as they are the source of water used in critical services including clean drinking water and water for agricultural processes, among many others. Knowing that having a healthy watershed is important for the communities and the environment, the Foundation entered a five-year partnership with World Wildlife Fund for Nature Philippine (WWF-Philippines) to help conserve and reforest 150-hectares of the 263-hectare Sapang Munti Micro Watershed in the Ipo Watershed in Bulacan. The Coca-Cola Foundation has provided additional support with a grant to the project. This helps ensure a sustainable water supply for Metro Manila. 

Aside from providing water access to communities, Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines Inc. (CCFPI)’s Agos Program also secures water resources through the protection of watersheds in communities.

The Foundation has also recently signed a 4-year agreement with USAID-Safe Water and MUAD-Negros to conserve and rehabilitate the Bago and Malogo watersheds in Negros Occidental.

Coca-Cola Philippines’s sustainability projects gave back to communities and nature, 112% of the water used in its beverages in 2019.

Moving towards a better shared future
Heartened and made even more determined by the successes of their sustainability efforts, the Coca-Cola Company understands the need to do more by developing a more holistic strategy to further improve water security for its business, communities, and the environment by 2030. This is as they move toward making a greater impact on people and ecosystems.

As water stewards, Coca-Cola Beverages PH employs water sustainability efforts, such as efficient water practices and systems, in its operations across its 19 plants in the country.

Called the 2030 Water Security Strategy, the framework was developed following detailed water risk assessments and feedback from bottling partners, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governments, and peer companies. The strategy focused on strengthening the inroads they have made with the three priorities: reducing shared water challenges by being good water advocates; enhancing community water resilience with a focus on women and girls; and improving the health of priority watersheds.

The world is facing so many challenges and changes and as stewards of the planet, everyone must do their part in ensuring that we build towards creating a better planet, better communities, better environment, and running better businesses like what Coca-Cola has done in decades.

To learn more about the Coca-Cola’s 2030 Water Security Strategy, visit https://www.coca-colacompany.com/news/2030-water-security-strategy