Coca-Cola to buy sustainable produce to slash water consumption

17 September 2010

18 September 2010 | By Helen Gilbert

Coca-cola is to source sustainable sugarcane, oranges and corn in a bid to cut its water usage.

The soft drink giant will work with suppliers in an attempt to reduce the total volume of freshwater consumed, directly and indirectly, to produce a product.

It follows a report  by Coca-Cola and environment charity Nature Conservancy, which totted up the direct and indirect water used in a of a 0.5 litre plastic bottle of Coca-Cola produced in the Netherlands; beet sugar supplied to its European bottling plants; and Minute Maid and Simply Orange produced for the North American market.

During the study, both direct and indirect water consumption was examined as well as three different types of water used.  These were green water – rainwater stored in the soil as moisture; blue water – surface and ground water; and grey water – the volume of freshwater required to assimilate pollutants based on existing ambient water quality standards.

For a 0.5 litre bottle of Coca-Cola, the green water “footprint” was 15 litres;  for blue water one litre and the grey, 12 litres.

Sugar from sugar beets across Europe came in at 375 litres/kg sugar for the green water footprint; 54 litres/kg for the blue water footprint and 128 litres/kg sugar for the grey.

Denise Knight, water and sustainable agriculture director at the Coca-Cola Company said: “We see significant opportunity to engage more directly with our agricultural suppliers to advance sustainable water use for the cultivation of ingredients in our supply chain. Our initial efforts will focus on the sustainable sourcing of sugarcane, oranges and corn.”

Brian Richter, The Nature Conservancy’s freshwater programme co-director added: “The number associated with a water footprint is not the end game, but rather a starting point to addressing the sustainability of the water source.”

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