Soft drinks, hard cases

Business profile

Coca-Cola Company established in 1886, the company operates in more than 200 countries and markets nearly 500 brands and more than 3,000 beverage products. These products include sparkling and still beverages, such as waters, juices and juice drinks, teas, coffees, sports drinks and energy drinks. The company own four of the world's top five non-alcoholic sparkling beverage brands. There included Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Sprite and Fanta (The Coca-Cola Company. 2009).

Vision of the Coca-Cola Company is where all people have access to safe water, where packaging has a life beyond its original use, and where communities are healthy and prosperous. Live positively is the company's commitment to making a positive difference in the world. Live positively focuses on seven core areas key to Coca-Cola business sustainability. There included Beverage Benefits, Active Healthy Living, Energy Management and Climate Protection, Community, Sustainable Packaging, Water Stewardship and Workplace (The Coca-Cola Company. 2009).

Water Stewardship

Coca-Coca Company's goal is to safely return to communities and nature an amount of water equivalent to what the company use in all of its products and production. Water stewardship has been practice in three areas:

To reduce water use ratio while growing the unit case volume, with a target to improve water efficiency by 20% over 2004 levels by 2012. Coca-Cola Company remains to rigorous quality values that cover both source water and finished products throughout operations. In 2008, water use ratio was 2.43 litres per litter of product and 9% improvement from 2004 baseline (Stirton et al. 2010).

To recycle water use in operations by returning wastewater to the environment at a level that supports aquatic life by the end of 2010. The company has strict wastewater treatment standards in place and work with bottling partners to ensure all system operations are aligned to reach the 2010 wastewater treatment goal. This is an expensive and time-consuming activity, but Coca-Cola Company believe the alignment with global standards is critical to help preserve local water resources. In 2008, 88 % of facilities and over 95% of process wastewater volume were in fulfilment with the company wastewater treatment standards (Stirton et al. 2010).

To replenish water use in finished beverages by participating in local relevant projects that support communities and nature and also to meet and maintain this goal by 2020. There are more than 250 community water partnerships focus on watershed protection, conservation and providing access to clean water and sanitation for communities. These projects currently cover more than 70 countries and conducted in partnership with a wide range of organizations. Coca-Cola Company has responsibility with regard to replenishing water in areas of the world under water stress. Moreover, the company also focus much of replenishing work in communities where the needs are greatest.

By targeting in 2009, Coca-Cola Company had replenished 638 million litres for communities and 28.8 billion litres to nature, signifying approximately 22% of the water used in finished beverages (Stirton et al. 2010).

Water stewardship in India

Coca-Cola Company in India has made a simple intervention at bottling plants to optimize water usage efficiency and to reduce the nozzle diameter in the bottle washer for optimal rinse water usage. Besides, the company is committed to ensure 100% compliance with regard to wastewater treatment at all its bottling plant across the world by 2010.The generated wastewater is fully treated at the on-site Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) and this normally includes secondary treatment (including the collection of wastes, screening/settling of solids, biological treatment to eliminate nutrients and disinfection and disposal) to meet Coca-Cola Company and the Indian Pollution Control Board (PCB) norms. Thus, the treated waste water in large number of units complies with "Zero Discharge" norm of the PCB where in all the treated waste water is utilized within the plant premises for on-land discharge. In addition, the treated wastewater is also used for toilet cleaning and floor wash to reduce water and use recycle for secondary purposes within plants (Coca-Cola India Pvt. Ltd. 2007).

The total annual water used by Coca-Cola Company in India shows a decline of 21.08%, 17.22% and 11.72% during 2005, 2006 and 2007 correspondingly in comparison to the total water used in 2004. In 2007 the total annual water used has gone up 6.6% with reference to total water used during 2006 and this variation is due to a corresponding 6.5% increase in the production volume in 2007 as compared to 2006 (Coca-Cola India Pvt. Ltd. 2007).

Negative performance

In India, Coca-Cola Company admits that without water it would have no business at all. Thus, Coca-Cola's operations are relying on plentiful sources of water, and gaining control of aquifers is an important strategy. As a result, the company has brought a greater negative impact on community water resources. Coca-Cola Company has been accused of dehydrating communities in its pursuit of water resources to feed its own plants, drying up farmers' wells and destroying local agriculture since the company started operation in India (Zacune 2006). Furthermore, Coca-Cola's operations take almost three litres of water to make one litre of Coca-Cola (Coca-Cola: drinking the world dry 2007). The company also use water for other purpose such as industrial cleaning and bottling plant. Coca-Cola Company has operates its bottling plant in Plachimada and also Kala Dera in India. Due to Plachimada facility, the company extracted up to 500,000 litres of water per day from the ordinary groundwater resource. As a result, the community in Plachimada has been experiencing stern water shortages after Coca-Cola Company started operations in the area, and the remaining groundwater has been polluted (Powers 2005).

In Kala Dera which is a small area in Rajasthan. The local government declared the area's groundwater resources as over-exploited in 1998. The community challenged Coca-Cola Company to shut down its bottling plant due to the company depleting the water resources. But Coca-Cola Company pays no attention to the recommendations of it. Not surprisingly, the groundwater circumstances continue to worsen severely. As a result,the groundwater levels has fell sharply with a drop of 4.29 meters (14 feet) in just one year between August 2008 and August 2009, from 30.83 meters below ground level to 35.12 meters correspondingly. Overall in nine year since Coca-Cola Company has been started operating in 2000, the groundwater levels have sharply dropped 22.36 meters compare with just 3 meters dropped which is before Coca-Cola Company operate its plant in Kala Dera (Srivastava and Yogi 2010).

Furthermore, highly water usage of Coca-Cola Company has drying up famers' wells, polluting and destroying agricultural land through the dumping of toxic waste (Zacune 2006). The company drilled more than six wells and illegitimately installed high-powered electric pumps to extract millions of litres of pure water. It causes the level of the water table fell from 45 to 150 metres below the surface and largely agrarian community with severely restricted access to water (Shiva and Diplomatique 2005).

Because of Coca-Cola's activities, there are 260 wells which use to supply drinking water and meet irrigation needs have been dry. As the water supply deteriorated, it implicated the local society such as women had to travel about 5km to fetch drinkable water (Shiva and Diplomatique 2005).

On the other hand,the local villagers near the city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh in India complain that the company's over-exploitation of water resources has taken a serious levy on their harvests and led to the drying up of wells (Zacune 2006).

Besides, since Coca-Cola's made a serious decline in water levels. The local community unable to irrigated their lands and sustain their crops. It causes the whole families at risk of losing their livelihoods (Zacune 2006).

Positive performance

Coca-Cola Company is partnering with the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA), State Ground Water Boards, NGOs and communities to combat water shortage and depleting groundwater levels with simple and effective solutions. One of the methods used for ground water recharge is rainwater harvesting (RWH). Rainwater harvesting is the process of collecting and storing rain water and preventing its runoff, evaporation and seepage for its efficient utilization and conservation. Through rainwater harvesting, Coca-Cola Company will return as much rainwater to the earth as the total amount of groundwater used for its operations in India. In year 2007, Coca-Cola Company had created a rainwater harvesting potential equivalent to 75% of the groundwater used for its operations. In 2009, over 400 rainwater harvesting sites have been developed in over 20 states of India (Coca-Cola India Pvt. Ltd. 2007), including Plachimada in Kerala, Kale Dera in Rajasthan and Varanassi in Uttar Pradesh (water management 2008).

By targeting in year 2009, the company aim to being a "net zero" user of groundwater user (Coca-Cola India Pvt. Ltd. 2007).

Coca-Cola Company in India has joined with government agency and private sector to build and promote Drip Irrigation project for water efficient agriculture in Kala Dera area. Drip irrigation also known as trickle irrigation or micro irrigation is an irrigation method which minimizes the use of water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either onto the soil surface or directly onto the root zone, through a network of valves, pipes, tubing, and emitters (Coca-Cola India Pvt. Ltd. 2007). Starting with 27 drip-irrigation projects installed in 2008 in an area over 13.82 hectares, this initiative has become extremely popular with the community, leading to its adoption by over 190 farmers by the end of 2009 (Stirton et al. 2010).

In addition, Coca-Cola Company was partnering with local stakeholders to supporting the restoration of lakes and ponds across India. This project immensely benefit to the local communities, the restoration of lakes and ponds has expanded to an additional 6 ponds in 2009. This project is actively engaged in Varanasi and others communities in India (Stirton et al. 2010).

Coca-Cola Company in India had partnered with agricultural and industry organizations in order to contribute to the government's efforts to improve rural livelihoods and alleviate poverty. The main objectives of this project were to increase water-use efficiency with additional approach to enhancing agricultural productivity; to provide accessibility of drinking water; to facilitate enhanced rural incomes and to train farmers in the area of sustainable natural resource management and livelihood options (Coca-Cola India Pvt. Ltd. 2007).


Besides core business in manufacturing soft drink, The Coca-Cola Company also played an important role in its water stewardship to community social responsibility. In past years performance, Coca-Cola had performed in some ways such as reduce the water usage ratio, expand partnership with NGOs, government agency and private water concern sectors to combat and resolve the water resources throughout the particular operation areas, and also increase percentage of wastewater treatment to preserve community water resource.

However, Coca-Coca Company might pay heavy effort on improving total litres of water usage in operation system in order to reach the company's water efficient goal in 2012 by 20% compare with 9% in 2008.

On the other hand, the groundwater levels in particular area in India have dropped seriously which bring negative implication to the local community. But the Coca-Cola Company has irresponsibly to continue operate bottling plant even the company knew the area is water stressed area. Anywhere, the Company has to heavily focus on this issue in India by taking efficiency and effectiveness actions.

References List

  • Coca-Cola: drinking the world dry. 2007. (accessed March 26, 2010).
  • Coca-Cola India Pvt. Ltd. 2007. Towards Sustainability. (accessed March 28, 2010).
  • Powers, R. 2005. Anti-Coca-Cola Abusing Water Rights and Poluting Village in India. (accessed March 28, 2010).
  • Shiva, V., and L. M. Diplomatique. 2005. India: Soft Drinks, Hard Cases. (accessed March 24, 2010).
  • Srivastava, A., and M. Yogi. 2010. Press: Groundwater Levels Continue Downward Spiral Around Coca-Cola Plant: Continues Bottling in Drought Area, Farmers and Villagers Left Without Water. (accessed March 28, 2010).
  • Stirton. B., M. Chyketa, J.Turner, and A. Vorauer. 2010. The Coca-Cola Company: Replenish Report. (accessed March 27, 2010).
  • The Coca-Cola Company. 2009. Our commitment to making a positive difference in the world: 2008/2009 Sustainability Review. (accessed March 26, 2010).
  • water management. 2008. (accessed March 24, 2010).
  • Zacune, J. 2006. Coca-Cola: The Alternative Report. (accessed March 27, 2010).

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