WWF joins forces with Coca-Cola

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 25 August 2010

The Yangtze River – the longest river in Asia and the lifeblood of millions of Chinese – was once said to be so clear you could see the bottom. Today, as China’s massive economic growth takes its toll on the environment, it is at the top of the list of the 10 most-threatened rivers in the world, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The Yangtze River provides China with 35% of its fresh water.

To help reverse the tide, the WWF has joined forces with Coca-Cola, which operates 39 bottling plants in China, to improve the water quality of the upper reaches of the Yangtze. One project, for example, has them working with rural farmers to reduce the runoff of animal waste into the river by turning pig waste into biogas, a type of fuel that can be used for cooking and heating. Another involves searching for ways for the multinational to be more efficient in its own use of water.

The non-profit’s partnership with Coca-Cola is part of a growing corporate awareness that water is a threatened resource, not just in the Yangtze but throughout the world. Companies that require a lot of water to do make their products are beginning to assess the risks that they — and their customers — face on the water-supply front and what could be done to mitigate them.

For continued growth in China, Coca-Cola officials recognize that the company must strengthen what they call “water security.” The WWF projects are “not considered philanthropy [or] even CSR [corporate social responsibility],” says Brenda Lee, vice president of Coca-Cola China. “It is part of our business commitment. We can only prosper and thrive in communities that are sustainable.”

Coca-Cola is working with WWF to help clean six other rivers on the 10-worst list. The company isn’t the only multinational to add an environmental partner to its water-related efforts, which also involve industry groups. Indeed, Coca-Cola’s competitor, PepsiCo, has been collaborating for some time now with the China Women’s Development Foundation, the architect of the Mother Water Cellars Project, which provides ways for people in the most water-scarce regions of China to have better access to water. Continue reading

Little progress to limit Three Gorges dam pollution

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 02 July 2010

China has made scant progress on environment schemes drawn up nearly a decade ago to limit pollution in and around the vast Three Gorges dam reservoir, with officials hobbled by lack of funding, state media said on Friday.

Three Gorges Dam

Less than one-fifth of the projects laid out in 2001’s 10-year plan to protect the “water environment” have been completed, the official English language China Daily reported.

None of the nine schemes to limit water pollution caused by ships travelling on the reservoir have even got off the drawing board, the paper quoted Vice-Minister of Environmental Protection Zhang Lijun saying at a meeting in the city of Chongqing, which is at the top of the reservoir.

The Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest, aims to tame the mighty River Yangtse and provide cheap, clean energy. The dam, which cost 254.2 billion yuan ($37.24 billion) and displaced 1.3 million people, was controversial long before construction began in 1994.

The long-term plan aimed to lay to rest concerns that the dam would be devastating for the environment.

Environmentalists have warned for years that the reservoir could turn into a cesspool of raw sewage and industrial chemicals backing onto Chongqing, and feared that silt trapped behind the dam could cause erosion.

But officials from affected areas say they never got enough cash to push through the projects, and were hindered by a range of other obstacles, the China Daily said.

Vice-Minister Zhang Lijun said funding was not a problem, and that any area that had not completed at least 60 percent of its projects by the end of this year would face punishment.

A magazine report warned last year that the reservoir will also see an increasing number of landslides and other geological hazards, as the water reaches its maximum level, citing research by a local political advisory body.

– Reuters