The Coca-Cola Company
Focus on a Member
Every month, CSR Europe introduces one of its members' key CSR focus areas and activities through a brief interview. This month, Dominique Reiniche, President, Europe, The Coca-Cola Company, discusses the company's approach to Sustainability Reporting and how Coca-Cola is addressing two of the key issues in the industry: obesity and water scarcity.
Coca-Cola recently published its 2007/2008 Sustainability Review. How does this report support Coca-Cola’s efforts to engage with stakeholders?
Our Sustainability Review explains how we see sustainability at The Coca-Cola Company, and importantly, how we try and manage our business in a sustainable way. In the report, we transparently measure our progress against targets.
The review is available online only, what motivated Coca-Cola to make this decision?
We know that those who are interested in our sustainability efforts will be able to find and consult our report online. A printed report would unnecessarily use paper.
How does Coca-Cola address the obesity issue?
Obesity is a serious health problem in Europe. It is a complex, multi-factorial issue, which can nevertheless be brought down to an imbalance between calories in and calories out. No individual food or drink products can be blamed to be the reason of the obesity epidemic. It is rather an imbalanced diet that can cause obesity. Such a balance or imbalance of a diet is always a function of an individual’s specific lifestyle: how much calories does the person take in, and how many does that person expend through being physically active?
As a drinks company, which is part of the food & drink industry, we obviously do take the obesity problem seriously. As an industry representative, we are involved in the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity & Health. Our company’s health & wellness strategy is essentially about responsibly selling great sparkling drinks & a wide variety of other drinks to well-informed people, and helping them become more physically active:
- Choice: beyond our well-known sparkling drinks, we offer a variety of around 180 different brands & 700 different products for different occasions across 38 countries in Europe sold in over 3,800 different packs;
- Information: at the end of 2008, 100% of Coca-Cola products carry Guideline Daily Amounts or GDAs;
- Responsible marketing & sales: Coca-Cola led the development of the European non-alcoholic drinks industry “UNESDA” commitments on responsible marketing & sales, with the principle of parental guidance at its core; this initiative inspired a new policy of the global non-alcoholic drinks industry;
- Physical activity: in 2008, the European Coca-Cola business invested over 30 million EUR in tens of thousands of grassroots community events that moved 3 million Europeans.
Water is an ever more scarce resource. How does Coca-Cola ensure it uses water in a responsible manner?
Even if the total amount of water on the Earth and in the atmosphere always remains the same, water scarcity will indeed increase in some parts of the world with climate change. While water is our main ingredient, and therefore of vital importance to our business, our European annual water usage is relatively small: it is equivalent to the annual water usage of roughly the population of the French city of Marseille for example. Our global aspiration is to return to communities and nature an amount of water equivalent to what we use in our beverages.
Our strategy can be summarized as reduce, recycle, replenish, and – for the 38 countries of our Europe Group – can be illustrated with the following tangible commitments and data:
- Reduce: by 2012, we will reduce the average water use ratio for our European factories to 2.05 litres of water for 1 litre of drinks, coming from 2.46 in 2004;
- Recycle: by end of 2010, we return 100% (now 93%) of waste water from manufacturing to the environment at a level that supports aquatic life (so fish can live in it);
- Replenish: we protect watersheds and support community water programmes:
- Make a water risk assessment across Europe for our operations and roll out a source water protection plan;
- Continue our rainwater harvesting scheme and community water projects across Europe, and the Danube watershed protection programmes with the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) & the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River basin (ICPDR)