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Clean water is an essential ingredient of the beverages produced by Coca-Cola HBC Russia. It has been a priority for the Company to increase the rational use of water during production processes and help local rivers and reservoirs, from which plants extract this water, maintain their ability to regenerate themselves and improve their ecology.
To be able to monitor and assess water use efficiency, the company uses indicators which show the volume of water spent on the production of 1 litre of a drink. In all Coca-Cola Company's plants measures and innovations are constantly implemented to improve these indicators. That is why in 2019 at the factory in Saint-Petersburg a new innovation was introduced — the cooling system was transformed so that water circulates through the coolers in a closed loop, that resulted in nearly 40 million litres of water saved.
The strategy of an attitude of care for water is integrated in the entire value chain of the Coca-Cola HBC business. Despite the fact that Coca-Cola in Russia had already completed its global commitment of returning the water used in the production of beverages back to nature by 2016, the company continues to set new goals for the conservation of water resources. This requires investments and innovations.
One of the main activities of Coca-Cola HBC in the field of sustainable development is innovative water reuse technology. This strategy is aimed at maximizing water conservation, which is achieved through water reuse. The Coca-Cola factories in Russia use closed water supply systems and filters to purify water used at different stages of the technological process in order to return it back to the production cycle. This is possible as water, which remains as a result of the filtration process, can be collected and, after thorough cleaning, reused for technological needs.
A key indicator of the effectiveness of water saving initiatives is a consistent reduction in specific water consumption per litre of finished products. This indicator takes into account water directly used for the production of beverages and water for servicing equipment and all supporting processes in the factories.
In 2019, Coca-Cola HBC reached the lowest level of specific water consumption since the company began — 1.83 litres per 1 litre of finished products. Since 2017, it has managed to reduce this figure by 4.2%. Overall, the company managed to save 95.4 million litres of water per year.
Alexander Gorbachev told us more about the implementation of this innovation: ‘In 2019, one of the key projects was connected with changing the cooling system at the plant in St. Petersburg, which we did together with Tetra Pak’. In that way, Coca-Cola HBC transformed this system so that water circulates through the coolers in a closed loop. Moreover, at the factory in Rostov-on-Don, the company expanded the system for collecting and returning the water from production lines, additionally extending it to two more beverage filling lines. At the same time, the entire water collection and return system was connected to an automated washing and disinfection system to eliminate the possibility of secondary water contamination. The implementation of such initiatives at all the production facilities allowed the company to save 45 million litres per year.
According to Coca-Cola HBC’s commitment to sustainable development, it pays particular attention to the conservation of water resources in high-risk areas. The plants that are located in these areas were determined by Coca-Cola HBC with the help of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Global Water Tool (GWT) . Therefore, one of the most significant plans of the company is to implement the international water use standard of the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) at all Coca-Cola factories in Russia in partnership with the state, suppliers and other stakeholders.
The Coca-Cola HBC mission is to "refresh our consumers, partner with our customers, reward our stakeholders and enrich the lives of our local communities". It is clear that innovative water reuse technology relates to this mission as it aims to improve the lives of consumers and communities. By improving the environment and reducing the amount of water used for production, these activities have an impact on improving the quality of the social environment.
Free access to clean water is a prerequisite for human health and the normal functioning of ecosystems, as well as a key ingredient for the production of Coca-Cola products in Russia. "That is why we constantly introduce some innovations, if we are talking about water conservation at our factories", said Alexander Gorbachev. Moreover, in the framework of the “Circular economy”, which is common in foreign countries, by 2021 all of the Russian factories should use closed loop technology. "All large factories in Russia consume a lot of fresh water. Therefore, all of them will have to switch to technologies where once they have taken water from an external source, there will be no need to take it again. It will circulate inside the plant, be purified and consumed again. This is exactly what the closed loop is", - said Sergei Ivanov, a special presidential representative for the environmental protection, ecology and transport, at the international economic forum in St. Petersburg in 2018. Companies which use this technology get tax incentives from the government. Therefore, in 2019, Coca-Cola HBC Russia, together with Tetra Pak, came up with the idea of implementing the cooling close-loop project.
The short-term effects of the innovation include positive impact on the environment, such as saving a great amount of water with just a small increase in energy consumption.
In the long run, this innovation will help decrease the amount of water used in company plants by 20% by 2025. Moreover, this innovation along with many others introduced by Coca-Cola HBC will contribute to improving its public image making the company more attractive among its stakeholders. Furthermore, as this project aims at reducing the amount of water used in production, it also contributes to cutting costs in terms of water bills. Therefore, the money may be spent on implementing other sustainable innovations or developing the core business of the company.
Evidence of water usage cuts can be seen in the sustainable development reports, which are published yearly in Coca-Cola HBC Russia. As the innovation is relatively new, its long-term effects cannot be seen yet. However, the company predicts that its innovations in water usage will enable them to preserve more than 52 million litres of clean water per year.
The company has had the ability to use water resources efficiently and it should be mentioned that the innovation will be paid off in the near future in the public image of the company. Coca-Cola HBC is considered to be a sustainable company, which takes care of the environment and promotes an environmentally friendly approach to natural resources. It is said that Coca Cola invests $300 million in purification technologies annually, and also implements a wide range of water protection projects.
All in all, there is no direct influence on society as the innovation specifically affects the production of beverages. But it should be stated that this example and active proliferation of green business makes society more aware of the severity of irrational and excessive use of water. Nowadays there is a trend to responsible consumption and the more people see the company's experience, the more willing they will be direct their efforts toward the Earth’s rescuing.
Overall, Aleksandr explained: "During the year of implementation of this project, almost 37 million litres of water were saved. At the same time, we have only slightly increased energy consumption, but due to this, we have reduced water use considerably." Since 2015 the water consumption has decreased by 22% and that is a brilliant result compared to other beverage companies. The water emission in 2019 was significantly cut and the amount of reused water is 9% of the total water consumption at Coca-Cola’s factories.
Aleksandr Gorbachev, Regional Head of Corporate Social Responsibility
Kristina Kurdyukova, External Relations and Communications Manager
Tatyana Sidelnikova, External Relations and Communications Manager
Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (HBC) Russia is one of the 225 beverage bottling companies that are partners of the Coca-Cola Company and all together make up a sophisticated system of non-alcoholic beverage production, distribution and selling. In Russia there are 10 plants in 9 regions where Coca-Cola’s beverages are produced under widely known brand names: Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite, Puply, Fuzetea, BonAqua, Adez etc.
All the projects of Coca‑Cola HBC Russia are aimed at achieving eleven Sustainable Development Goals. They underlie sustainable development commitments tailored to the strategic priorities of the Coca‑Cola Company and in line with the realities of Russia, and they are to be met by 2025.