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The Coca-Cola Company
Using Source Protection Planning to Identify Source Vulnerabilities

The Coca-Cola Company oversees the operation of more than a thousand beverage manufacturing plants in nearly 200 countries around the world. Water is an essential ingredient to their products. To assure a continuous supply of high quality freshwater, all facilities are expected to evaluate the reliability of water sources on which they depend.

The Coca-Cola Company has recently undertaken source protection planning, a cost-effective program to improve the safety of their water treatment systems, without increasing treatment costs. Source protection plans must include a comprehensive assessment of potential sources of contamination, strategies to protect wellheads and aquifer recharge zones, and active participation in local watershed management efforts. Each of the 25 plants located in areas of water scarcity received increased technical and financial support from the regional offices, sometimes using consulting services to assess in-depth water supply reliability. A self-assessment tool was developed to support long term planning of water use for the bottling operations as well as for their broader hydrographic basins.

To assure high quality water in production, Coca-Cola plants operate a complete multiple-barrier water treatment system using the approach below.

Coca-Cola's Multiple Barrier Water Treatment Approach
Coca-Cola's Multiple-Barrier Water Treatment Approach

Watershed management initiatives may reduce treatment costs by improving the quality of the water inputs at the source. Reduced microbial load and lower concentration of nutrients, which will generate less algae, limit the need for expensive treatment steps.

For example, since 1995, a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Brazil has invested more than $2 million in partnership with the municipality and other businesses to protect the Jundiaí River watershed, the primary source of water for that community. As a result, two key sanitation projects (a new solid waste landfill and a new wastewater treatment plant) were built, dramatically improving the quality of the water reaching the reservoir. The plant, which is the largest in the Coca-Cola system, also improved water use efficiency by lowering its usage ratio from 2.9 to 1.7 liters of water per liter of beverage.

Educational activities focused on water conservation are also sponsored by the Jundiaí plant, including daily school visits to the new fish habitat created at the plant’s wastewater treatment plant.

Coca-Cola is finding that source water protection is an effective business continuity strategy that can reduce costs, improve ecosystem health, and benefit the communities where it operates.

Module 2