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One of the areas that have been changing since 1990 has been the recognition and the response to which corporations accord the environmental concerns (Lober, 1996). The health of the natural environment and how a corporation affects the ecosystems and the human health has of late become a major concern. It is the responsibility of corporations to observe environmental rule and policies to ensure that the society doesn't develop a negative assessment performance about the company. Coca-Cola being the largest beverage company in the world is not an exception regarding this concern. It's based in Atlanta in the United States of America and was founded in the year 1886. It is the leading manufacturer, marketer and distributor of the beverage products in the world. The company operates in more than 200 countries worldwide (Economywatch.com 1). Coca Cola Company needs to keenly observe how its actions affect the society and the environment at large. This paper is aimed at discussing the performance of Coca-Cola in relation to the environment. It examines the conduct of the company giving detailed discussion about the company's weaknesses and the strengths in its day to day functions and their effects on the environment and other stakeholders.
The case against Coca Cola Company
Coca Cola Company produces a wide range of products which have been criticized by various groups of people for various reasons like health problems after taking the products, high usage of pesticides for its products and slave labor in Germany which was needed in the building plants. Other issues include destruction of the environment through its practices, its business practices which assume monopolistic nature and therefore act as a loophole to exploit customers and lastly producing, selling unhealthy products to minors which have negative impacts on their lives and its history of racial discrimination practices (Rogers, 2004). According to Rogers (2004), in the year 2000 the Coca Cola Company in Atlanta used $192.5 million to settle a case where about 2,000 African-American employees were allegedly discriminated in terms of pay and promotions. He says hat many similar lawsuits are pending in the court against the company with the recent one being where the company has been accused of intimidation, creation of abusive and offensive and hostile workplace environment. In Dallas, the company was also criticized for stocking expired products.
Another intense criticism about the Coca Cola Company was its strategy to market nutritionally worthless and damaging products to the children contributing to the increasing number of the obese teenagers. The company used Harry Potter's movies to entice the kids to more soft drinks. It's also involved in the pollution and overuse of water sources in India which has got a fast growing market of the Coca Cola products. There has been a constant criticism on the company's practices in India which has drained a lot of underground water and turned farming lands into virtual deserts. Three communities in India experienced acute water shortage as a result of mining carried out by the company. The indiscriminate dumping of the waste products by the Coke Company had an adverse effect on the environment and polluted water sources. This water shortage issue in India led to the passage of law by the Indian parliament that saw the banning of selling of Coke and Pepsi products in the cafeterias. The Coca Cola Company has neglected the health issues in Africa where the employees in Africa do not get good medical attention that would assist in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa (Rogers, 2004). Other critics of the Coca Cola Company claim that its products are not fit for leading a healthy life in that Coke contains high levels of sugar and large intake of sugars in the body resulting in high stress levels and worsening of a diabetic situation (Ponce, 2010). He claims that too much sugars in the body weakens the immune system, speed the aging process. In diet drinks, a sweetener is normally used which is believed to cause bladder cancer. Another health concern is tooth decay which is caused by the acids used to make the coke and reaction with the calcium of the teeth. Coca cola contains a lot of caffeine and too much in the body has negative effects like hyperactivity.
The case for Coca-Cola Company
Coca Cola company is a local business but operating on a global scale. This means that the business is found in many countries and it's locally managed. As the business grows, the community support aimed at creating and supporting projects for the local communities across the globe also grows. The Coca-Cola foundation is aimed at accomplishing this and it has contributed $305 million to support these community programs and initiatives. The foundation asserts that they are committed to investing their time, resources and expertise to ensure realization and maintenance of vibrant, sustainable and local communities (Thecoca-colacompany.com, 2009). The foundation partner with other organizations around the world to get more support to be able to assist the community based programs and initiatives. The foundation assists communities to acquire clean water and sanitation, to ensure there is enough water and utilization of water for education, conservation and awareness programs within communities. The foundation is also charged with the fostering healthy and active lifestyles among the people in a community. This is done through giving support on access to exercises, nutritional educational programs that encourage change in behavior among the people in the society and therefore their ways of living is greatly improved. The foundation steers the so called community recycling which aims at improving and increasing research and innovation within a particular community. They support scholarship programs, assist the students from the poor family backgrounds and access to education programs in a community. All these initiatives are aimed at improving the face of the communities and improve the lifestyles of the people.
Coca-Cola Company has got community water programs which were launched to aid in the healthy water sheds to recover the water used in the manufacturing process of the company. This initiative has helped greatly in the improvement of the living standards of people all to the courtesy of the Coca-Cola Company. The areas which could not be inhabited by human beings or sparsely inhabited due to lack of water have now been changed into green land and more productive (Thecoca-colacompany.com 2009). The Coca Cola Company is committed to conserving the natural resources and the protection of the soil, water and climate and the essentials of sustaining life on earth. For any community to register any economic growth or improvement in the livelihood agriculture must be taken care of and it is with this realization that Coco Cola Company launched this initiative to create and sustain constant flow of food supply in the communities. Agriculture is the mother of the economy and it affects billions of people across the world because it is required for human survival and it's the biggest employer of the most of people. Although Coca Cola Company is not directly involved in farming, it encourages sustainable practices that benefit suppliers, customers and consumers. The company is committed to attainment of health and economic vitality of the farming communities. The company also offers disaster relief and recovery management to communities that are not easily accessible for necessities in case of a disaster. For instance, during the recent January 2010 Haiti earthquake, the coca-cola system response was urgent. The company donated amount of money amounting to $2 million to the Red Cross, more than one million litters of water and Coca Cola drinks to be taken to the victims of the earthquake. The company partners with local health officials and other experts to sensitize people on the relevant health issues like polio, malnutrition, proper hygiene, hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS initiatives supported by the coca-cola company include the Coca-cola Africa Foundation which is charged with the responsibility of developing HIV/AIDS programs in the African countries. Then the company launched a campaign in China to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in the area prone to these diseases by distributing cards containing the information related to these killer diseases. The Coca-Cola foundation is committed to reducing the spread of the AIDS epidemic in Haiti (Thecoca-colacompany.com, 2009). All these initiatives demonstrate clearly how Coca Cola Company is committed to improving the lives of the common people and the sustainability of the improved lifestyles. The Coca Cola Company will use $30million over the next six years to make clean water and sanitation available to the Africans. The president and the CEO of the Company said that Africa is threatened by the lack of water and therefore hinders economic growth. He said for any community to thrive, it needs strong and healthy habitants and therefore helping Africa solve the water crisis is the company's priority which would make a positive and a lasting effect to the lives of the residents (Ameinfo.com, 2010). In areas where the company is located, the residents enjoy improved infrastructure like roads, electricity and general growth of the area. In addition, there is creation of job opportunities for the residents where this company is found.
It is evident that the social performance of the Coca-Cola Company in relation to the effect on the environment has been mixed up. On one hand, we have seen that the Coke Company has engaged itself in positive social activities that add value to the communities. The initiatives that they are funding are improving people's lives and earn them a living. Community projects are very important in every society in that there is no a single community that can grow or thrive in an environment where its residents are deprived of water, food, education, health and other projects which the Coke company are trying to fund and support. However, the company finds itself at loggerheads with community in a number of issues. The society expects the company to cause no harm on the environment or affect the health of the innocent people. The products of the company are no so good for intake in terms of health risk and many have found themselves in bad health situations due to ignorance and indiscriminate marketing of these products even to the kids. The company has been involved severally in law suits for discriminate promotion and job placement. Many places have been turned into deserts as a result of the company's involvement.