Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) has at least 186 reasons to celebrate World Environment Day on June 5 – that’s how many Olympic-sized swimming pools could be filled with the amount of water the company saved last year by cutting down on the water used in making its products.

LCCBA has significantly reduced the amount of water required to produce one litre of product over the past five years and in 2020 alone reduced its usage by 463 Megalitres, equivalent to 186 Olympic swimming pools.

The company also made a substantial contribution to The Coca-Cola Foundation’s (TCCF) Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), where six million people in more than 4 000 communities across 41 countries have gained improved access to clean water. 

CCBA’s partnership with TCCF to implement RAIN has resulted in three million people having access to water across CCBA’s territories alone.

In 2020, CCBA also replenished 4 665 Megalitres of water in the countries where it operates on the continent. That is equivalent to 186 Olympic size swimming pools.

“We continuously introduce new technologies to reduce the amount of water we use and improve water efficiency in our manufacturing processes, as well as to reuse wastewater,” said CCBA CEO Jacques Vermeulen. 

“We make progress every year and we have already reduced our water usage ratios this year compared to 2020 as we work towards achieving our 2021 target of 1.82 litres of water used for every litre (L/L) produced; with some of our markets aiming even lower,” said Vermeulen.

There is also positive news on the plastic waste front, where CCBA is confident it will reach its 100% collection and recycling global target well in advance of 2030. 

The PET Recycling Company (PETCO) was initiated in South Africa in 2004 as an industry-led initiative for the collection and recycling of PET bottles. 

PETCO reported that 62% of all PET plastic beverage bottles produced in 2019 were collected for recycling, while in 2020, PETCO and partners recycled an estimated 55% of PET beverage bottles in South Africa, due to the impact of Covid-19. This model has since been established in Kenya and Ethiopia, with Tanzania launching soon and other markets in planning. 

As the continent’s biggest Coke bottler, accounting for 40% of all Coca-Cola volumes sold in Africa, CCBA is tracking ahead of the global Coca-Cola target to make 100% of its plastic packaging recyclable by 2025. The company also aims to stimulate the circular economy by making 50% of all plastic packaging from recycled materials by 2030.

These achievements are the fruits of the company’s participation in The Coca-Cola Company’s global World Without Waste strategy, with commitments to recover every bottle or can it sells by 2030 and then to recycle and reuse.

“We produce and distribute soft drink brands that people love. And we are increasingly doing this in ways that create a more sustainable business and a better shared future that makes a difference in people’s lives, communities and our planet,” said CCBA CEO Jacques Vermeulen.

“Importantly, we are working in partnership with others, including fellow manufacturers, retailers, and governments to be more successful and efficient.”

Climate change is a critical area of sustainability, and CCBA is addressing this through cooler equipment innovation and increasingly using solar power as part of its commitment to reduce its carbon footprint by 25% by 2030, from 2015 levels. 

“We are also working with our supply chain to continuously improve sustainable and ethical sourcing practices, including a continued commitment to human rights. 

“As at the end of 2020, our local sourcing was already at 83.5%, exceeding the global target to source locally 80% of the raw materials usually imported by 2022. In this context, our target for 2021 is 85%,” Vermeulen said.