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).
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