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Coca-Cola: Taking Water Stewardship to the Next Level

Comprehensive water stewardship is a top business priority for The Coca-Cola Company, which since 2004 has improved the efficiency of its water use by 20 percent. However as water risks intensify globally and investor and stakeholder expectations continue to grow, Coca-Cola identified the need for a rigorous third-party evaluation of its water management approach. A Ceres member company, Coca-Cola partnered with Ceres and Irbaris in 2012 to use the Ceres Aqua Gauge™ tool to assess the strengths and weaknesses of its water stewardship strategy.

Comprehensive water stewardship is a top business priority for The Coca-Cola Company, which since 2004 has improved the efficiency of its water use by 20 percent. However, as water risks intensify globally and investor and stakeholder expectations continue to grow, Coca-Cola identified the need for a rigorous third-party evaluation of its water management approach. A Ceres member company, Coca-Cola partnered with Ceres and Irbaris in 2012 to use the Ceres Aqua Gauge tool to assess the strengths and weaknesses of its water stewardship strategy.

As a first step in the Aqua Gauge assessment, Ceres and Irbaris evaluated Coca-Cola’s existing water strategy using data from public documents such as the company’s sustainability report, its CDP Water Disclosure response and SEC filings. “This step in the process helped us understand how investors and stakeholders are likely to view us, and where we could improve our disclosure,” says Greg Koch, Global Director of Water Stewardship at Coca-Cola.

Then, using additional internal Coca-Cola information, a full assessment of the company’s water strategy was conducted against the leading practices defined in the Aqua Gauge. This assessment was used to identify strengths, areas for improvement, and formulate recommendations that were shared with Coca-Cola representatives from across the business. The analysis, when compared to the Aqua Gauge score of a peer company, also provided Coca-Cola with a rigorous external benchmark for their program.

In 2013, Coca-Cola reset its sustainability goals, including those on water, and used the Aqua Gauge assessment to help inform its new commitments. The company is redoubling its efforts on water efficiency, with a new water use efficiency goal of 25 percent improvement by 2020.

Coke recently committed to sourcing its key agricultural ingredients sustainably by 2020, focusing on the efficient use of water in agriculture.

Finally, an important priority for the company going forward is working with major suppliers and retail customers to help advance their own water management. “We are sharing the Aqua Gauge with suppliers and customers to help these commercial partners take steps to improve their own water management,” says Koch.

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