SOUTH AFRICA – Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) has long recognised its moral and commercial responsibility to use water wisely in its manufacturing processes, while also playing a significant role in helping to improve South Africa’s water security.
CCBSA notes that all its efforts geared towards proper utilization of water is in line with the Coca-Cola Water Stewardship Strategy 2030, based on the reasoning that water is an important “capital” for the company, as it is the main ingredient in its beverages.
Also, the company is faced with the reality that access of water for daily use by many communities remains an ongoing struggle.
“Contrary to what some believe, South Africa is water-scarce, and our country is prone to droughts. Scientists say climate change is expected to make this worse,” said Nozicelo Ngcobo, CCBSA’s Public Affairs, Communication and Sustainability Director.
Globally, the business has adopted a three-pronged strategy to water which is focused on regenerative operations, healthy watersheds, and resilient communities.
Regenerative operations are intended to prevent water wastage, reduce the amount of water being used and safely discharge water by reducing, reusing, recycling, and replenishing within its operations.
Meanwhile its focus on healthy watersheds entails rehabilitation, restoration and protection of the country’s watersheds and catchments.
Watershed restoration and protection is aimed at addressing long term, sustainable and cost-effective water security through nature-based solutions such as clearing of alien invasive species,
Further to that, enhancing community water resilience is focused on provision of clean access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities empowering women and girls, who are the most vulnerable in most communities in which CCBSA operates.
This pillar also focuses on assisting communities to adapt to impacts of climate change.
“It is our view that water stewardship is not just about helping the world, but it is also about making the business stronger and more resilient.
“By implementing water sustainability practices, we reduce costs, protect ourselves from operational disruptions resulting from insufficient water supplies, and maintain and strengthen our license to operate, amongst many other benefits,” said Ngcobo.
Local projects to drive the Water Stewardship Strategy
Some of the local projects CCBSA has initiated to drive the Water Stewardship Strategy include Coke Ville, a project bringing solar-powered groundwater harvesting and treatment for communities experiencing water insecurity.
Launched in 2020, the project has expanded to a total of nine sites in Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
Each project is designed to provide these communities with 10-20 million litres of water annually.
By the end of 2021, Coke Ville was generating more than 130 million litres of water to the benefit of more than 15 000 households.
Another key initiative is a partnership with the municipality of Grabouw to build skills and support the rehabilitation of water infrastructure through Project Lungisa.
South African municipalities lose a huge amount of water through leaks, and Grabouw was no exception—around 60% of its potable water was lost.
Project Lungisa is transferring technical skills to local youth while providing the community with better hygiene and sanitation. It is also generating awareness of the need to conserve water.
In similar vein, CCBSA partnered with Gift of the Givers to purchase a 34 500-litre water tanker to assist in the distribution of water in drought-stricken Makhanda (Grahamstown).
CCBSA will underwrite the running of the tanker for four years and is set to acquire another for Polokwane which has its own water crisis.
An important project is the protection and rehabilitation of watersheds. In 2021, these projects removed more than 3 000 hectares of invasive plants and replenished water stocks with 560 million litres that would have otherwise been consumed by these thirsty plants.