CocaCola launches new project to find solutions to water scarcity

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Getty/ Rattankun Thongbun
Image: Getty/ Rattankun Thongbun

Related tags Water conservation

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) has unveiled a programme which aims to discover new technologies to tackle water scarcity.

The drink giant’s innovation arm – CCEP Ventures – will partner with tech accelerator Deep Science Ventures to identify water specialists and entrepreneurs capable of developing and scaling novel technologies to tackle water stress.

While water covers 70% of the planet, freshwater for human use – from agriculture, to manufacturing to personal use – only accounts for 1%. Water is also central to the beverage industry, both as an ingredient and in agricultural and manufacturing processes.

The aim of the new project is to develop solutions that will supply water affordably, at scale, and without causing environmental damage.  

“Climate change is exacerbating water scarcity in many parts of the world, and as a business which relies on water as an ingredient and for manufacturing purposes, we have a responsibility to think innovatively about how we respond to this issue,” CCEP said.

The project aims to create new companies to develop water generation technologies, which can then work with both CCEP and the wider industry. “While we don’t know what technologies might be developed, taking an innovative approach like this allows us to find and trial new solutions while we continue to drive water efficiencies across our production processes.” CCEP continued.

Head of CCEP Ventures Craig Twyford added: “The launch of this project reflects our ongoing commitment to water stewardship, and our ambition to build a more water secure world, both for our business, our industry, and the communities we work alongside.”

Who’s it for?

The project aims to bring together entrepreneurial scientists, academic advisors and investors in order to design and build new companies around which high growth ventures and teams can be built.  

The programme is open to researchers and industry professionals with an interest in science entrepreneurship.

“We are looking for highly-driven individuals with expertise in water-related technologies and an overwhelming desire to solve planetary and human problems, who are driven to build scalable ventures for solving problems related to the supply of fresh water to industry,” CCEP revealed.

“No prior IP or ‘idea’ is required. Candidates on this programme will have at least 12-months to identify the optimal solutions for a given area and create a venture to deliver them.

“You will join DSV’s venture creation programme as a Founder in Residence and work closely with the DSV team, using our methodology, to spin-out a new company," CCEP said. "During the programme, you’ll work on all aspects related to venture creation in this opportunity area, including working out the optimal approach to solve for the desired outcome, building a team and building a viable business case. Once the new venture is incorporated with pre-seed investment from DSV and our corporate partner, you and your co-founders will own the majority stake in the business and continue receiving support from the DSV team post-spinout."

Coke's water saving committments 

CCEP’s sustainability strategy, ‘This is Forward’, includes a commitment to replenish 100% of the water used in its beverages each year.

The project aims to boost existing water stewardship efforts, which include investing €1.6 million in water efficiency technology and processes in 2022. In addition, over 20 water replenishment projects are running across Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, helping to address water risks near CCEP’s operations and in local communities, in partnership with the Coca-Cola Company, local NGOs and community groups. 

Examples of its water saving efforts include Project Catalyst in Australia. This is a collaboration between the Coca-Cola Foundation, sugar cane farmers in Queensland, WWF Australia, natural resource management bodies and the national government, which aims to reduce the agricultural run-off impacting the Great Barrier Reef.

Since 2009, the initiative has grown to include more than 130 farmers has improved the quality of 150 billion litres of water flowing into the reef and reduced run-off by 180 tonnes per year, CCEP claimed.

In Spain, in partnership with WWF and Coca-Cola Foundation, CCEP also supports Mision Posible: Desafio Guadalquivir. This project aims to improve the irrigation of agricultural crops and enhance the biodiversity of the Guadalquivir River basin by restoring local marshland.

The Guadalquivir River in Andalucia in southern Spain is suffering the longest and most intense drought since 1970, according to the Guadalquivir Hydrographic Confederation.

Thanks to this project, CCEP has claimed 633 million litres of water was returned to nature in 2021.

In total it estimates it replenished 3.7 billion litres of water across eight water replenishment projects in 2021. It added that in Belgium it will save up to six million litres of water a year by using vacuum pump fillers for the beverage filling process that were introduced at its production facility in Antwerp in 2001. 

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