Water is a vital resource used for almost everything we do–from personal hygiene, hydration, to agricultural activities. The importance of water, protecting it, and making sure everyone has equitable access to it has been brought to the forefront with the challenges of the pandemic, especially since access to water for sanitation and proper handwashing is crucial in stemming the spread of COVID-19.
In celebration of Earth Day 2021 and its theme ‘Restore the Earth’, Coca-Cola Philippines reiterates its continuous and steadfast commitment to protecting water resources as a way of protecting and uplifting people’s lives.
With the heightened need to protect 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.
“We have a long history in the Philippines and around the world of supporting local water stewardship programs and we are committed to using this crucial resource responsibly as we also help to protect and replenish local water sources and provide water access to communities that need it,” said Antonio “Tony” del Rosario, President Coca-Cola Philippines and VP for Coca-Cola Franchise Operations in East Region (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Philippines). “For us, it’s a business imperative. Water is essential to our products and the communities where we operate.”
Efficient water management in manufacturing
The use of water is central to the production of beverages and with a national footprint of 20 manufacturing plants across the Philippines, Coca-Cola Beverages PH, the local bottler of Coca-Cola in the country, ensures that water use in its plants is managed responsibly. Comprehensive strategies are in place to ensure this is achieved, supported by advanced technology and infrastructure.
This includes 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, Coca-Cola is strengthening systems for water-intensive processes such as optimizing bottle-washing and reducing backwashing of water treatment filter 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.
These initiatives have led Coca-Cola Philippines to reduce absolute water consumption in its operations by 31%.
“Sustainability is integral to how we do business—it’s not just a nice to have but 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.
Providing clean water access, education to underserved communities
In a country where nearly 5 million people rely on unsafe and unsustainable water sources, the Company’s water sustainability efforts are focused on protecting watersheds and making safe water accessible to water-stressed communities through its Coca-Cola Agos program.
“The Coca-Cola Agos program serves one of the communities’ basic needs – water, improving the 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. President.
The Coca-Cola Agos Program has benefited an estimated 290,000 Filipinos in 270 underserved communities including 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, community members have more time for 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 livelihoods while teaching them how to manage their water resources.
The local philanthropic arm of Coca-Cola, together with local government units and USAID and Water and Life Philippines, is providing a total of 141 handwashing stations nationwide in high traffic public areas to promote proper handwashing, which is even more important as proper hygiene and sanitation is recommended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases. The global Coca-Cola Foundation 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. Knowing that having a healthy watershed is important for the communities and the environment, the Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines 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 global Coca-Cola Foundation has provided additional support with a grant to the project. This helps ensure a sustainable water supply for Metro Manila.
The Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines 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.
The community water programs of Coca-Cola Philippines gave back to communities and nature an estimated 112% of the water used in its beverages in 2019.
Moving towards a better shared future
Heartened and even more determined by the successes of their sustainability efforts to date, Coca-Cola understands the need to do more. The company has developed a new holistic strategy to further improve water security for its business, communities, and the environment by 2030.
This is why the company has developed the 2030 Water Security Strategy, following detailed water risk assessments and feedback from bottling partners, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governments and peer companies. The strategy focuses on strengthening progress in three areas: reducing shared water challenges; enhancing community water resilience with a focus on women and girls; and improving the health of priority watersheds. To learn more about Coca-Cola’s 2030 Water Security Strategy, visit https://www.coca-colacompany.com/news/2030-water-security-strategy