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Coca Cola in India--Working Hard To Protect Our Shared Resources

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March 2006
Coca Cola in India--Working Hard To Protect Our Shared Resources

The Coca-Cola Company recognizes that it cannot grow and thrive unless the communities it serves do so as well.���Coca-Cola is deeply tied to each country in which it operates, in large part due to a unique system of regionally and locally operated bottlers who bring Coca-Cola products to markets. Coca-Cola is not simply an "MNC." It is an organization made up of thousands of local people around the world who work hard to help enhance the lives of the communities where the Company operates and where they live and work.���An increasingly important part of that commitment involves efforts to protect and improve the environment.

Recent published data on Coca-Cola's environmental performance, including improvements in water and energy efficiency as well as an increase in recycling efforts, provide testament to the Coca-Cola system's commitment to running its operations responsibly.���Coca-Cola is not just talking about improvements in water use and other environmental impacts; it is making quantifiable, provable gains. Underpinning these operational improvements are established global standards for product quality and plant operations. These standards are the same in all 200 countries where the Company does business.���

These efforts have not prevented the company from being the target of false accusations alleging irresponsible water use practices in India. Companies with worldwide operations are often targets for activists who are genuinely concerned about the welfare of their people. This does not, however, mean the accusations of activists are true. It does mean that global companies must maintain the highest levels of product quality, environmental and corporate citizenship, and indeed demonstrate leadership in the communities in which they operate in ways that directly help local people. The Coca-Cola Company fully accepts this responsibility and is doing just that regarding to India and water.

To understand the water risks facing communities where it operates, Coca-Cola recently completed a first of its kind "Global Water Risk Assessment" ? a study of water issues at local, national and global levels. Through the assessment, the Company developed a water scarcity map, overlaying sub-national water availability with locations of all its plants worldwide, indicating the relative production volume and water use ratio for each facility.

The study provides the Company with information to ensure progress in its own operations and is being shared with strategic partners to help raise awareness and find solutions to the challenges of global water access worldwide.

Coca-Cola India

These efforts have been reflected in India where in the last 5 years, Coca-Cola has reduced its water usage per liter of beverage produced by more than 30% through implementing a wide range of water conservation initiatives, both within operations and beyond in local communities.

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There is simply no evidence linking a reduction in groundwater availability or quality in India with The Coca-Cola Company's operations. While some anti-MNC campaigners persist in repeating false allegations to the contrary, it remains a fact as the evidence below shows.

The Kerala area was indeed affected by a water shortage; however, a year-long independent scientific study conducted for the High Court of Kerala showed that the primary cause of the water shortage in the local area was reduced rainfall during the last several years.���Within approximately five kilometers of the Kerala plant there are nearly 150 bore wells. There are only six bore wells within the Coca-Cola plant of which the Company uses no more than three bore wells at any one time. At peak capacity, the plant requires just one quarter of one percent of locally available water.���

The groundwater on the plant premises is not contaminated and the groundwater quality in and around the plant has been monitored by the Company and independent agencies since the plant opened. The monitoring shows that the plant operations have not caused deterioration in groundwater quality around the plant.

The Coca-Cola Company works hard to ensure water use efficiency in its operations throughout India and has made progress. This work in India has been recognized by prominent global organizations such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The World Environment Foundation awarded the Golden Peacock Environment Management Award 2005 to the Coca-Cola bottling plant at Kaladera. The award followed a year long assessment of the plant's operations and several environmental performance indicators including energy and water use, wastewater discharge, compliance with government regulations and positive community impact.

Coca-Cola has helped protect watersheds in India through a range of water conservation initiatives, including rainwater harvesting systems at more than 20 Company plants. The potential of rainwater harvesting is enormous in helping to combat water scarcity and restore groundwater tables. Local communities involved in rainwater harvesting projects are also better aware of conservation and the benefits of groundwater recharging.

Coca-Cola India is partnering with the Indian Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA), local governments and communities to expand the use of this simple and effective technology. Government officials and NGOs identify priority areas, and then Coca-Cola partners with local resident welfare associations and communities to collect rainfall and recharge the groundwater.

In April 2003, the Government of Delhi honored Coca-Cola India with a special recognition for the Company's participation in the State Government's Bhagidari (partnership) program to implement rainwater harvesting and solid waste management initiatives in various parts of Delhi.

Product Quality

The Coca-Cola Company adheres to one set of product quality standards around the world. In India, as in all countries, ingredients and products are constantly monitored for quality control. Water used in beverages is passed through a multibarrier water treatment system which is designed to ensure every drop is safe for use. Tests on traces of pesticide residues in water are conducted to a level equivalent to one drop in a billion drops.

Testing for pesticides in finished soft drinks is complex and often produces unreliable and unrepeatable results. For this reason, The Coca-Cola Company thoroughly treats and tests each of the separate ingredients before they are combined to make a finished soft drink. This is an accurate and reliable way to ensure product safety.

Partnerships

Coca-Cola CEO Neville Isdell stated that "Only through dialogue and trust is genuine progress made". These words are especially true when it comes to addressing global water challenges.

Around the world, Coca-Cola is partnering with major environmental groups such as World Wildlife Fund-US on watershed conservation; and with governmental organizations such as USAID, and non-profits such as the United Nations Foundation on water projects to address community needs.

One example is the Company's partnership with the UNF and key UN agencies to focus on water programs to rehabilitate sustainable water and sanitation facilities for communities affected by the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

Ongoing Commitment

The Coca-Cola Company recognizes that the journey to sustainable environmental and water management in India and around the world is just beginning. Progress requires continuous operational improvements, addressing community challenges where the Company operates, and building trust with strategic partners and other stakeholders.

The people of Coca-Cola are committed to using their expertise in water management and other environmental issues to benefit communities in local areas around the world. The Coca-Cola operations in India demonstrate that commitment.

[This response was authored by Jeff Seabright, Vice President, Environment & Water Resources, The Coca-Cola Company. More information on the topic is available at: www.cokefacts.org]


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