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Coca-Cola Taps WWF to Cut Water Use and Emissions

Days after releasing its environmental performance data in its 2007/2008 Sustainability Report, Coca-Cola unveiled new targets for reducing water use and greenhouse gas emissions.

The company plans to improve water efficiency 20 percent by 2012, relative to a 2004 baseline. It intends to grow its business, but not the system-wide carbon emissions related to its manufacturing, as well as reduce the absolute emissions from its manufacturing facilities located in developed countries 5 percent by 2015.

That's the equivalent of more than 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. In a business-as-usual scenario. Coca-Cola predicts its manufacturing-related emissions would top 7 million metric tons by 2015.

Since the company expects to grow its business, its absolute water consumption will inevitably increase. Its water efficiency goal is expected to avoid some 50 billion liters of water through 2012. To help it achieve this, Coca-Cola extended its partnership with World Wildlife Fund. Begun in 2007 with $20 million in funding through 2010, the partnership will now run through 2012 with an additional $3.75 million in funding.

The two organizations collaborated to create a water efficiency tool kit for bottling plants distributed to operators throughout the company as part of the company's overarching goal of becoming water neutral. Coca-Cola said it's also working with WWF to foster sustainable agriculture to help its supply chain ease water impacts, beginning with sugarcane crops. The company will identify two additional commodities to target in 2009. The two groups also will team to conserve freshwater resources in regions that include Mekong, Danube and waterways in the Southeastern U.S.

The company is not without its critics. The San Francisco-based India Resource Center asserted this week that Coca-Cola's recent sustainability report omits its water-consumption issues in India, where the company has faced local opposition related to its water use.

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