Taking water seriously

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This water awareness month, CCBSA can celebrate significant progress in meeting their sustainability goals in relation to water savings and helping South African communities to become more water resilient.

South Africa, 01 March 2022 – Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) has long recognised its moral and commercial responsibility to use water wisely in its manufacturing processes, and also to play a significant role in helping to improve South Africa’s water security. 

The Coca-Cola Water Stewardship Strategy 2030 is based on the reasoning that water is an important “capital”  for the company, as it is the main ingredient in its beverages. “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. While we are lucky to have access to clean running water, for many communities, accessing water for daily use remains an ongoing struggle,” 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 reduce local shared water challenges by complying with Coca-Cola’s water stewardship requirements to prevent water wastage, reduce the amount of water being used and safely discharge water, as well as achieve regenerative water use by reducing, reusing, recycling and replenishing within our operations. Our Strategy focuses on sustainable, efficient water usage, improving local water challenges and partnering with others to improve watershed health and enhance community water resilience, with a stronger emphasis on helping women and girls,” said Ngcobo.

Ngcobo further explained that healthy watersheds are about 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, while enhanced 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.

“Our Water Stewardship Strategy should be seen within the context of the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goal 6 and the National Development Plan, both of which advocate for universal and equitable access to affordable drinking water for all, by 2030.” 

“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”, Ngcobo added.

CCBSA’s efforts in support of the Water Stewardship Strategy in South Africa show how a global strategy can be turned into concrete local projects. 

One example is 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. 

Building water resilience for a water-scarce country is all about turning strategies into concrete results. CCBSA’s Water Stewardship Strategy 2030 continues to demonstrate just how that can be done and what kind of practical difference it can make both in how the company operates and in the life of the communities it serves. 

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About CCBSA

Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) is a proudly South African company which began operating as a legal entity in July 2016, after the merger of six non-alcoholic ready to drink bottling operations. We are level 1 B-BBEE empowered company. We employ over 7000 people at 13 manufacturing facilities across the country. As a subsidiary of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) and a bottler for The Coca-Cola Company, our vision is to refresh Africa every day and make our continent a better place for all. We manufacture and distribute Coca-Cola beverages that make life’s everyday moments more enjoyable, while doing business the right way. The result is shared opportunity for our customers, our employees, our communities, and our shareholders. We conduct our business ethically, transparently, and conscientiously. We espouse an inclusive business culture to reflect our African identity. We accelerate sustainable, profitable revenue growth across all categories and offer an innovative portfolio of products that respond to customer needs and consumer preferences. Profitability is important, but not at any cost. People matter. Our planet matters. We do business the right way by following our values and partnering for solutions that benefit us all.

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