Drinks giant Coca-Cola has announced a new three-year partnership with WWF-UK to work together to conserve and protect English rivers.
England’s rivers are under pressure – only a quarter are currently considered healthy enough to support thriving eco-systems – and as the climate changes and population grows their future becomes more uncertain.
In a statement Coca-Cola Great Britain said it wanted to lead the way in water stewardship and demonstrate how businesses can reduce their impact on the freshwater environment, while encouraging others to play their part.
It added: “Our work will begin in two chalk stream catchments which are of direct relevance to Coca-Cola’s operations in Great Britain. We will work with local communities in Norfolk – the source of some of the sugar beet used in Coca-Cola’s drinks made in Great Britain - and in South London, near to Coca-Cola Enterprises’ manufacturing site.
“In these two catchments we will work to restore river habitats and promote sustainable water management in order to improve the health of these rivers, and support the achievement of good ecological standards.”
Alongside this, the partnership will use its experience to promote good practice nationally and work with Government to support the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive. The Directive requires that all rivers in England and Wales meet ‘good ecological status’ by 2015.
WWF-UK, Coca-Cola Great Britain and Coca-Cola Enterprises say they believe that businesses have an important role to play in addressing these issues by reducing the local environmental impacts of the products they produce.
Water is the main ingredient of all Coca-Cola’s products and is core to its business. Given that 97.5% of the drinks that Coca-Cola sells in Great Britain are made within its borders, the business says it is determined to use water in a responsible, sustainable way.
Coca-Cola’s global goal is to safely return to nature the same amount of water used in making their drinks by 2020. In Great Britain, Coca-Cola says it will focus its work in areas of water stress.
WWF-UK has been working to restore England’s unique chalk streams: places of both incredible biodiversity and the key source of England’s water supply. WWF-UK’s work centres on supporting the full implementation of the Water Framework Directive, as well as the development of national policies which better protect our rivers and encourage water efficiency.
Globally, WWF and The Coca-Cola Company have worked together since 2007 to conserve freshwater resources, working across seven major river basins, including the Danube in Europe, while helping The Coca-Cola Company become a leader in water efficiency and water stewardship.
The statement added: “While the issue of water scarcity is growing, we believe that if managed properly there will be enough water to meet the needs of both people and nature in future years. To achieve this, businesses, governments, NGOs and individuals all need to play their part. This partnership is an important step on that journey.”