Did you know that it takes 2.54 liters of water to make 1 liter of Coke? With the long-term future of our freshwater supply in question, the company is looking to reduce the amount of water that goes into its drink production—it has already brought it down from 3.14 liters. “I don’t see in the short-, or even in the medium-term, that it’s going to threaten our business, but in the long-term it is,” Chief Executive E. Neville Isdell told Reuters after a news conference on World Environment Day.

According to the Reuters article:

Drought, rising populations and overuse by industry and agriculture means that by 2025 two-thirds of the world could face a serious lack of water … Coke, which along with its bottlers used 290 billion liters of water for beverage production last year, has itself been accused in the southern Indian state of Kerala of helping to suck the water table dry.

To deal with this looming problem, Coke is setting water efficiency targets and will recycle all water used in manufacturing. It will also “expand support of local water preservation efforts, like harvesting rain water, reforestation and improving water efficiency in farming.” It’s teaming up with the World Wildlife Fund to implement some of these programs.

Call me cynical, but I can’t help feeling like this smacks of PR. I’m glad Coke (and Pepsi, as well) is making some changes, but it’s hardly an altruistic thing. The Coke bottling plant in Kerala has not operated in two years. As the Reuters article points out, “[Y]ou can’t work somewhere if the community thinks you are hurting the environment and hates you for it.”

’Cause sometimes “Have a Coke and a Smile” just doesn’t cut it.

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