CSR key for Coca-Cola

08 November 2012

NEW YORK: Coca-Cola, the soft drinks giant, is seeking to exploit the potential of corporate social responsibility in "every aspect" of its operations, as part of a plan to double revenues by 2020.

"We're working to embed sustainability-minded innovations into every aspect of our business, from sourcing ingredients to increasing beverage options to aspiring to be water neutral and recovering packages for recycling," said Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola's CEO, in a new report.

The company now sells over 800 products containing low or zero calorie levels, representing almost 25% of its total portfolio. Average calories per serving have also fallen by 9% worldwide since 2000.

When it comes to packaging, Coca-Cola has distributed some 10bn fully recyclable PlantBottles in 24 nations from 2009 onwards, reducing the need for the equivalent of 200,000 barrels of oil.

Alongside licensing this technology to Heinz, the food group, the firm is working with allies like Ford, the automaker, Procter & Gamble, the FMCG group, and Nike, the sportswear expert, to develop entirely plant-based plastics.

"The most profound and impactful innovations over the next decade and beyond will emerge at the intersection of sustainability and our vast global value chain – the suppliers, retailers, technologies, people and infrastructure that bring our beverages to market every day around the world," said Kent.

Elsewhere, the firm now sponsors more than 280 schemes in 115 markets providing education about exercise and education, and aims to run such programmes in at least 200 countries by 2015.

It also hopes to have provided 300,000 women in areas like Brazil, India and South Africa with access to business training, funding, financial services and similar tools by the end of 2012, a figure set to hit 5m by 2020.

"One of the most powerful and valuable assets we have is the global recognition and love of our brands, led by Coca-Cola and 14 other billion-dollar brands. As such, we have an opportunity – and, to my  mind, a responsibility – to act as a catalyst for positive change around the world," Kent said.

In keeping with this idea, Coca-Cola has partnered with the WWF, the environmental charity, to pursue its biggest-ever cause marketing campaign, Arctic Home, to protect polar bears.

Among the other organisations it is working with on various projects are the United States Agency for International Development, DEKA Research and Development, The Nature Conservancy and CARE.

"Partners, in this day and age, are an absolute must. The scope and scale of today's challenges demand cooperation across what we like to call the golden triangle of government, business and civil society," said Kent.

Data sourced from Coca-Cola; additional content by Warc staff