Coke sets targets for cuts in water, emissions
Coca-Cola is the latest American brand working to improve its environmental credentials with a sweeping new program that pledges to improve water efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions throughout its massive global system.
The soft drink maker today said that through a partnership with environmental group WWF, it has commited to eliminating 50 billion liters of water from its bottling plants by 2012 by improving water efficiency by 20 percent over 2004 levels. Coke’s announcement comes a few months after General Electric said it would cut water usage by 20 percent by 2012.
The beverage industry has increasingly become a target for environmentalists, who say plastic soda and water bottles add to landfills while the companies themselves use too much energy producing and shipping bottles across the world.
Coke also pledged to promote more sustainable agricultural practices, initially focusing on sugar cane production. It will work with two additional crops beginning next year.
The water initatives build on an agreement Coke struck last year with WWF in which it vowed to “return to communities and to nature an amount of water water equivalent to what we use in all of our beverages and their production.” Coke at the time said it would commit to specific targets for reducing water usage this year.
Coke’s biggest challenge is reducing its carbon or water footprint while its business keeps growing. The company said it plans to “grow the business, not the carbon system-wide.” That goal will prevent the release of more than 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2015 — about the equivalent of planting 600,000 acres of trees. In developed countries, Coke will reduce emissions by 5 percent from 2004 levels by 2015.