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Entering 21 century, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is more concern by the consumers and has been an issue to discuss by them (Wood 1991). Corporate social responsibility is one of the factors of corporate social performance which can be define as the serious attempt to solve social problems caused wholly or in part by the corporation. (FITCH 1976) Due to this, many corporations started to do something and show their social responsibility to the society. The international corporation Coca-Cola, the world's largest soft drink company which had 123 years in business and has 450 brands in 200 countries. The company has done a good job of how they concern about the environment. However, there is also some adverse publicity surrounding the environmental issues with the company. (The Coca-Cola Company 2009) This article study on the relationship between The Coca-Cola Company and the environment. It study their conduct in the plant-based bottle, water stewardship, upgrade cooling and vending equipment to achieve energy efficiency and reduce the HFC gas omission, managing solid waste, animal test and usage of water. These show both the pros and cons in their business and the impact on the environment and stakeholders.
In 2007, WWF (World Wide Fund For Nature) and The Coca-Cola Company form a partnership centered about water - conserving seven of the world's most important freshwater basins to enhance water efficiency, reduce energy consumption in the company's production facilities, and address the impacts of agriculture. Since 2005, 250 Community Water Partnership (CWP) projects were engaged by Coca-Cola system in over 70 countries. In 2009, a total of 54 CWP projects activities were completed, and 33 new projects were commenced. The range of community projects consist of expanding community drinking water and sanitation access; watershed protection; water used for productive, such as agricultural water efficiency, education and awareness programs.
The company practices their water stewardship in three areas: Reduce, Recycle, and Replenish. Reduce is to measure the water ratio while growing the company's unit case volume, with aim to advance water efficiency with 20% over 2004 levels by 2012. Recycle is the amount of water that company use within the process by returning wastewater to the environment at a level that supports aquatic life by end of 2010. Replenish is the amount of water used in finished beverages by participating in locally relevant projects that support communities and environment, and to achieve and maintain this objective by 2020. Replenish objective is an essential factor of the company's overall goal to safely return to communities and environment an amount of water equivalent to what the company use in all beverages.
In year 2008, the water consume rate of the company increased 9% from 2004 baseline which was 2.43 liters per liter of product. In the same year, 88% of the facilities and over 95% of the process of wastewater volume were in compliance with the wastewater treatment standard. The water replenish program was successful. As a result, the amounts of water replenish increase from 12% in year 2008 to 22% in year 2009. Besides that, the completed Community Water Partnership (CWP) Projects from year 2005 to 2009 are 119 projects around the world and this result over 160,000 people have been reached with full access to water supply in the same period and approximately 638 million liters of water has been replenished under the Company's CWP program.(The Coca-Cola Company 2010)
In addition, the company has introduced a new, plant-based bottle made from a mix of petrochemical-based materials and up to 30 percent plant waste such as sugar cane and molasses (COCA-COLA GOES GREEN 2010) which is renewable materials and indirectly reduce the use of non-renewable resources - petroleum. (The Coca-Cola Company 2009) The bottle is not biodegradable but 100 percent recyclable. (Esposito 2010) Compared with using the virgin PET, this recycled PET substance can reduce the greenhouse gas emission by more than 40 % and energy use with more than 70 percent. The Coca-Cola system uses up to 50 percent recycled substance in individual bottles, however, due to the current recycling technology, the environmental return is inefficiencies. (The Coca-Cola Company 2009)
The Coca-Cola Company has more than 900 bottling and manufacturing facilities and more than 100000 vehicles and millions of vending machine and coolers which will release an amount of the carbon dioxide to destroy the environment. The company uses their energy management system to achieve their global targets for energy management and climate protection. In year 2008, 10 percent of energy efficiency has improved since 2004. Besides that, the company added new vending machine and coolers which is HFC-free to eliminate 75 percent of direct greenhouse gas emissions. (The Coca-Cola Company 2009)
Furthermore, The Coca-Cola Company senior vice president, Danny Strickland has announced to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that they will stop testing on animal in May 2007. This was great news for those pity animals because the experiment that previously used by Coca-Cola Company is invasive which consist of cutting open chimpanzees' face in order to conduct taste test and rodents have been force-feeding to test for the "caramel color" is now no more. However, by making the announcement that the company will stop testing on animal, this compassionate decision is a big step forward of the company. Besides this, the company also sends a powerful message to other companies which still test on animals about how an accountable, progressive company does business. (Coca-Cola Stops Animal Tests 2007)
In the beginning of year 2007, the World Environment Center's (WEC) Twenty-Fifth Annual Gold Medal for international Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development has been awarded to The Coca-Cola Company for implementing strategic business initiatives in the high impact areas of water stewardship, sustainable packaging, energy management and climate protection. (The Coca-Cola Company to Receive 2009 WEC Gold Medal for International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development 2009)
In year 2010, Braliewa - the holder of The Coco Cola Company license since 1974 has received the Coca-Cola 2009 Golden Award For Quality. This award is complying with Coca-Cola's requirements regarding quality of products and packaging, environment and occupational safety and health. (Kwizera 2010)
However, in year 2003, The Central Pollution Board of India found out eight Coca-Cola bottling plants was surrounded by the sludge which contained high levels of toxic heavy metal like lead, cadmium and chromium and is severely affected directly to the environment. Due to this, The Coca-Cola Company has been charged with dumping sludge and other industrial hazardous waste onto the surrounding of the society on June 6, 2007. (Glantz 2007) The local authorities of Kerala said that Coca-Cola has contaminated water and polluted the environment at the bottling plant and should pay 47 million dollars in compensation. The compensation is to compensate for the agricultural losses, water pollution and unspecified health damage between 1999 and 2004 which is done by the Palakkad bottling factory which was closed in 2005. (Coca-Cola hit by pollution claim in India 2010)
Moreover, the company has promise to become water neutral. Water neutral is a production compensates the adverse environmental and community consequences of the production-related water foot print. (Gerbens-Leenes et al. 2007) The company declares it won't stop using water and promise to carry on using water more efficiently to make sure all its wastewater is returned to the environment at a level to supports aquatic life and agriculture and lastly to replenish the water that society consume. Obviously, replenish is likely to be the key word. However, Coca Cola bottling plant have been complained by the Indian villages that Coca Cola are emptying their wells. Instead, the water will be "replenish" by the company somewhere else. How is not so clear. Apparently, funding with WWF is a way to protect the globe. (Pearce 2008) There is a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Kala Dera, India. The place's water table used to sink every year but only by a couple of feet. But now it is five to six meters after the Coca-Cola bottling plant build. Due to this reason, villagers who live by planting crops are already failing and there will be an exodus from land. However, Coca-Cola state that India was experienced worst drought in the past 40 years and Kala Dera was declared as a drought-hit region. Other than that, the water harvesting structure is totally flawed, so instead of flowing down, the rainwater simply runs off from higher level to lower level. No matter how many arguments surrounded with the company, yet, not many appear to gain traction. The protests done by Kala Dera farmers' to compel the closure of plant were unsuccessful. (Dhillon 2010)
Coca-Cola Chief Executive Officer, Neville Isdell, well used his position as co-chair of the World Economic Forum announced that the Coca-Cola Company had successfully cut back its water usage by roughly 4 percent per annum in order to decrease the "foot print", to clean Coca-Cola image as a good corporate citizen. A researcher at Polaris Institute, Richard Girard, opposed that there is no way to make sure the total of water used by the company. Because there are many cases about Coca-Cola bottlers do not release how much water they are using. The claim of the 4 percent cut back of water usage is exactly a work out in public relations. The company funding of international water projects are an additional tools to clean the company's image. The company can use this statement as a shield to retort to the critics at events such as press conference or general meeting. The Polaris Institute is an association that works among society movement in Canada and globally to develop tools and policies to assist democratic social change. (Coca-Cola Company wins Corporate Greenwashing Award n.d)
The Coca-Cola Company partner by WWF pledge to focus on conserving seven of the world's most important freshwater basins which is Southeast Asia's Mekong, China's Yangtze, the East Africa basin of Lake Malawi, the Rio Grande, the rivers and streams of the south-eastern United States, Europe's Danube River and the water basins of the Mesoamerican Caribbean Reef. Srivastava from India resource centre said that these are all an effort by the company to produce a green image to the society. However this pledge did not include or mention any ways to conserve water basin in India. For Srivastava, this exclusion of India's water basin is not surprise for him. The reason was the public in India is increasingly becoming sensitive of the Coca-Cola Company's terrible relationship with water, so they did not dare to include India in this project. (Glantz 2007)
As a conclusion, The Coca-Cola Company has put effort in conserving the society. For instance, the increase of the energy efficiency, reduce the HFC gas omission, introduced the plant-based bottle, stop the test on animal, the CWP projects, and conserving the most important 7 water basin in the world. Nevertheless, the company causes damages to the society as well. For instance, the improper way of water usage, toxic waste dumpling and pollution in India, thus create a large problem of water consuming to India society. Although the company has contributed in everywhere of the world but India to gain a good reputation, yet, what the company did is just like giving more money to the rich and rob the money from the poor. However, the India incidents cause a black mark on the company's reputation.
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