Coca-Cola shows the way to water stewardship even in times of crisis

With everything going on in the world today, it is easy enough to take water, the most basic of needs, for granted. Barely anyone has given a thought to how these problems are affecting the environment and the resources we derive from it.

Coca-Cola Philippines continues to go beyond by providing water access to communities to help improve their lives. Learn how Coca-Cola refresh the world with water. Watch here:

Yet, water’s value as an essential resource is even more significant now as a crucial requisite for sanitation and health preservation. The inescapable reality is that water is integral to the survival of communities which is why better water resource management is far more urgent. 

The Water Filtration System, a project between Coca-Cola and Habitat for Humanity, helps bring clean and potable water to communities in Bohol. 

Given water’s vital role in the communities where they operate, as well as its beverage production business, Coca-Cola has led an advocacy for responsible and sustainable use of water across its entire operations. This also extends to communities, teaching them to be water self-reliant while enabling ease of access to the resource—evidenced through its water relief efforts and by how Coca-Cola Philippines has replenished an estimated 112 percent of the water used in the production of beverages last year.

Crucially, with an increase in water demand, Coca-Cola reinvigorates this commitment to refresh the world and make a difference in a multitude of ways. “Water will always be a valuable resource, even more during an unprecedented crisis. Our water stewardship and expertise have allowed us to continue being of service to our countrymen in need at a time like this,” said Ma. Cecilia Alcantara, the Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines President.

Responding to urgent needs in times of crisis

By providing an adequate water supply that helped improve their agricultural productivity, communities in Sagada, Mountain Province, have gained extra income–empowering them to explore better economic opportunities and livelihood.

About seven million Filipinos lack access to safe water which puts them at a greater disadvantage now when it comes to hygiene and sanitation. During the height of the lockdowns, Coca-Cola Philippines worked with Water and Life Philippines to provide water subsidies to communities in Cavite, ensuring that water security and community support is made available as sources of livelihood are greatly affected during a crisis. This partnership has been able to successfully provide access to potable water to around 2,000 families.

Aside from this, Coca-Cola has always been providing drinking water to affected communities during times of crisis or natural disaster in areas like Taal, Marawi and Eastern Visayas. During the lockdown, Coca-Cola Philippines has also sent out over two million liters of beverage support to almost 1,500 institutions—including hospitals, non-government organizations, local government units, and national government agencies. These essential beverages, along with food packs, were delivered to households and communities nationwide through the Company’s fleet.

Empowering communities through water access and education

Reservoirs like this are designed by Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation Inc. (AIDFI) and installed as part of the Agos ram pump system.

Since 2011, Coca-Cola Philippines through its Agos program has been linking water-deprived communities in faraway regions with access to potable water and providing knowledge-sharing and educational support on effective water resource management. As of 2020, the program has successfully helped deliver safe water access to 223,000 Filipinos and counting—responding to sanitation and health needs as well as livelihood concerns.

From hiking for hours just to get enough water and worrying about their daily water needs, communities in Barangay Suyo in Sagada, Province; Barangay Inararo in Porac, Pampanga; Barangay Puso and BaranggayMasulog in Negros Occidental; Maribojoc, Bohol; Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur; Lake Sebu, South Cotabato; and more, can now easily access water through the help of the Agos Program’s innovative water systems like a hydraulic ram pump for upland communities; gravity-fed systems that bring water from uphill springs to communities located on lower ground; and rainwater harvesting systems. 

In Negros Occidental, children can now practice proper hygiene and sanitation as access to safe, clean water is now made available

Alongside the assistance that Coca-Cola provides through these initiatives, part of the mission of the Company is to teach and enable communities to be self-reliant in managing their water resources. Through effective knowledge and technology transfers, continuity and sustainability—as well as maximization of resources—is therefore ensured, long after Coca-Cola and its partners have laid the initial groundwork.

Thus, with the installation of water systems and knowledge shared to communities, these communities now have more economic opportunities, increased agricultural productivity, and better sanitation, health, and overall improvement of life.

Returning every drop of water to communities

Coca-Cola ensures responsible water stewardship in its operations— efficient water practices and systems are strictly implemented across its 19 plants in the country.

Aside from giving back to communities, Coca-Cola also returns water to nature by supportingprecious watersheds, helping rehabilitate denuded areas, and providing strong support for conservation research and education. 

A testament to this is the many projects Coca-Cola Philippines has implemented to provide a year’s worth of water supply to more than 5,000 farmers—allowing them to sustain their livelihood while learning to manage their resources.

A firm advocate of education as well, Coca-Cola made sure that safe water flows from the faucets of the schools wherein they have built classrooms for their Little Red Schoolhouse project.

“We’ve learned so much about sustainable water use and its positive effects on the world and humanity through the many years of advocating and practicing it,” said Winn Everhart, Coca-Cola Philippines President and General Manager. “This is why, besides returning every drop of water we’ve used in production through water relief efforts and our Agos program, we always make sure to share this knowledge to the communities we serve, allowing them to fully learn and appreciate why it is critical to manage this vital resource in the daily lives.” he added.

Instituting water sustainability in bottling operations 

Coca-Cola’s responsible water stewardship is very much evident in its manufacturing processes. Efficient water use in bottling operations is integral to the way the Company operates, and care is taken to introduce enhancements that ensure water savings initiatives will continue to yield positive results and improve year on year. 

The Company’s 19 plants across the country lead in sustainable water practices through continued improvements in water use efficiency ratio, where initiatives anchored on Reduce, Reuse, Replenish allow operations to lessen absolute water consumption within manufacturing processes. These initiatives include reusing recovered water for maintenance tasks; and complying with wastewater quality standards of regulatory bodies, so wastewater is properly treated and viable for return to the ecosystem.      

“Sustainability is embedded in the way we do business—from efficient water use management to the integration of renewable energy in our plants, to recycling,” shared Gareth McGeown, President and CEO of CCBPI. “This is a business imperative—we do things the right way and not the easy way. We want to properly manage our environmental footprint and continue to strengthen our policies to ensure that we have effective systems in place to reduce our environmental impact.”

Coca-Cola’s approach to responsible water use ensures that the Company can keep producing its beverages to refresh more people nationwide. But alongside this, the thrust for sustainable water management also ensures that people, the communities they belong to, and the environment around them, are equipped to benefit, survive and thrive.