How Coca-Cola practices waste management, water stewardship

Staff Reporter
According to a study by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), approximately 20% of plastic waste in Africa ends up in water bodies. Non-degradable plastic waste was found to be due to poor waste management systems, in addition to pervasive waste littering by consumers and a lack of suitable waste management infrastructure. This leads to plastic waste being indiscriminately dumped into water bodies. UNEP also found that a lack of awareness was a supplementing factor as the majority of people are ignorant of safer ways to dispose of plastic waste.

“We at Coca-Cola Beverages Africa, together with the Coca-Cola company, practice responsible water stewardship and management of plastic waste. We are leaders in using water responsibly in our operations and giving it back,” Jacques Vermeulen, the CEO of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA), said.

He added that they continue to manage water resources through country projects that reduce water in their operations.

Safe drinking water for communities in need

Through all their facilities, they conduct thorough assessments of local water resources and exercise water protection measures for communities' vital water resources. They also keep track of the amount of water used for their ingredients and outline them in Coca-Cola’s sustainable agriculture guidelines.

"Because people need water to thrive, we support local water access projects that help bring safe, clean drinking water to communities in need."

The company’s partnership with Water Development Alliance (WADA) Tanzania is a clear example of its support of access to safe drinking water for communities. It has since enabled 70 000 Tanzanians in 14 communities to have safe access to solar-powered water systems.

A world without waste

In 2018, Coca-Cola, together with CCBA, launched a packaging initiative called World Without Waste. It globally targets to help collect a bottle for every one they sell by 2030; make all its packaging 100% recyclable by 2025; and make 25% of its packaging reusable by 2030.

"We believe that industry-led and managed extended producer responsibility is a sustainable funding approach which ensures that producers of brands take full responsibility for the choice of packaging they place on the market, and enables the collection and recycling value chain for packaging."

At the end of 2021, CCBA achieved an 84% collection and recycling rate, of which 41% was from the industry.

Vermeulen called upon governments, corporates, civil organisations and individuals to work together. This, he said, will create a more sustainable future for African water bodies and the communities that depend on them.