Coca-Cola funds river conservation

By Yuan Wu (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-06-06 06:54

The Coca-Cola Company announced yesterday in Beijing that it will fund a $20 million project with the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) to conserve seven major rivers worldwide.

The company also said it will alter its bottling methods to reduce pollution and water use.

Under the program, Coca-Cola will try to make up for the 290 billion liters of water it uses each year to make Coke, Sprite, Fanta and other bottled drinks.

"Essentially the pledge is to return every, every drop we use back to nature," Coca-Cola chief executive officer E Neville Isdell said at a news conference.

"If the communities around our bottling plants do not flourish and are not sustainable, our business will not be sustainable in the future."

The campaign was announced at the World Wildlife Foundation's annual meeting, which is being held this year in Beijing.

The company will also explore ways to eventually set targets to improve water efficiency for its water-thirsty agricultural partners, including sugar cane producers, Isdell said.

Jason Clay, a WWF researcher, said that such measures were important given the huge amount of water needed to grow sugar cane.

"For every liter of Coke, just the sugar in it requires between 175 and 250 liters of water. This is the big issue," he said. "They really need to get a handle on sugar."

Clay said Coca-Cola was encouraging sugar cane producers to conserve water and looking at sugar alternatives.

The main part of Coca-Cola's conservation effort will be the $20 million project with the WWF to protect sections of major rivers in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Agencies contributed to the story.

(China Daily 06/06/2007 page4)

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