To see more about Sodastream’s “Cage Challenge,” see https://www.facebook.com/TheCageChallenge.
by Chris Shattuck | June 28, 2012
Despite the reportedly lackluster result of the Rio+20 summit, the Coca-Cola Co. joined rival soda maker Pepsi Co. in agreeing to set targets on factory water efficiency and has pledged $3.5 million towards sustainability efforts in Africa.
Appriximately $3 million will be set aside for Coke's Replinish Africa Initiative (RAIN) with the other $500,000 going directly to the United States Water Partnership, a public-private partnership designed to address water challenges around the globe announced in March by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
In the past, Coke has promised to provide at least 2 million Africans with clean water and sanitation through the RAIN program by 2015, though its latest announcement signals a continued commitment by the company to lessen its overall water impact by returning an equal amount of water to the environment that it uses in its production.
Nearly 700 other companies and companies joined together at Rio+20 in Brazil to make significant financial commitments of $513 billion to expand clean energies strategies globally, according to reports.
The pledge comes at a time when the company has drawn serious criticism by its competitors, most notably Israeli-based portable soda maker SodaStream International Ltd., which is headquartered in Airport City outside of Tel Aviv.
Earlier this month, SodaStream came to Centennial Olympic Park in Coke’s hometown of Atlanta to display its traveling “Cage” exhibit,” a glass box the size of shipping container filled with more than 10,000 bottles and cans of discarded waste featuring some of Coke’s most popular products.
The move was widely seen as a slap in the face of Coca-Cola, which had previously sent cease-and-desist letters to the small company for previous exhibitions in South Africa.
SodaStream has since created a virtual "Cage Challenge" on Facebook, where visitors around the world can fill the virtual cage with pictures of used bottles and cans to promote awareness of the wastefulness of these products and the harm they cause the environment.
But with this pledge and other initiatives at Coke, the company is trying to create strong sustainability programs globally and improve its image.
"Access to safe water is essential for our company and our world,” said Bea Perez, Coke’s chief sustainability officer, in a news release. “The sustainability of water resources is a top priority at The Coca-Cola Company.”
Additionally, Coke says that it has set a goal to substantially limit its environmental impact by 2020.
"In North America alone, we have helped place more than 150,000 recycle bins into the market since 2008 to increase recovery of our packaging,” Sarah Cannon, a spokesperson for Coke, told GlobalAtlanta. “In Georgia, we have placed more than 20,000 bins throughout public venues and in homes through the city of Atlanta’s curbside recycling program."
“We don’t want our hometown to be filled with trash, either,” she added.
The $3.5 pledge also comes following Coke’s announcement to expand its operations in other countries, recently investing $3 billion in its operations in India, a top-10 market for Coke.
Although anticipations ran high for the Rio+20 summit, which reportedly attracted more than 45,000 participants and 188 diplomatic delegations, negotiators failed to work out a serious United Nations environmental policy on sustainable development.