Water Drop

It probably comes as no surprise that water conservation is big in the beverage industry, but what’s more shocking is that it wasn’t always. Management of water resources is still an issue that global companies wrestle with. The good news is that some big brands are stepping up admirably – here are some of the stand-out names in corporate-level water conservation:

The Dr Pepper Snapple Group continues to invest millions of dollars into the Texas watersheds from which its bottling plants draw water. While its preservation efforts support the brand’s bottom line – no water means no product – they also support the environment by preserving the kind of valuable American prairie land that has been disappearing. The funds have been put toward reseeding, maintaining water quality and other restoration initiatives geared toward re-establishing an eco-system that was once widespread.

Ketel One Vodka, which falls under the Diageo umbrella, has committed to massively cutting water use in its production. Ketel One and Diageo have pledged to safely recycle 100% of wastewater, reduce water usage by 50% by increasing efficiency and replenishing water stressed areas by the year 2020. Additionally, Diageo is active in the philanthropy space, working to provide sanitation services and safe drinking water to those in need as part of its conservation efforts. These initiatives are important because one-third of Diageo’s operations take place in water-stressed areas of the word. Ketel One is a prime example of the sustainability efforts Diageo implements.

PepsiCo now treats water as a limited resource, aiming for efficiency in all water usage and investing in the kinds of new technology that enable new feats of conservation. The company has not only met but exceeded stated water-use efficiency goals and has developed its own technologies like the Treated Water Efficiency Tool, which allows beverage plants to optimize their water treatment systems. Overall, PepsiCo employs an integrated approach to treating and conserving water in all its plants and that appears to be paying off.

The Coca-Cola Company made big strides in conservation and stewardship when it partnered with the World Wildlife Foundation in an ongoing collaboration that will last until at least 2020. Together they’re addressing the resource challenges that impact fresh water by undertaking direct conservation efforts involving 11 key freshwater basins, addressing and improving environmental performance across the company and even becoming involved in policy matters surrounding water.

MillerCoors has created a three-part water stewardship strategy that involves efficient water use in the company’s breweries, watershed restoration that puts as much water back into the ecosystem as is used in production and supply chain resiliency that addresses the water issues surrounding grain farming. One unique component about MillerCoors’ approach is its flexibility. Individual breweries create their own environmental action plans that are then shared with breweries across the company to build proven best practices.

The companies meeting their water stewardship goals are those that take a multi-pronged approach to conservation. It’s not just about efficiency in production or preserving water supplies. Instead, the brands with the best track records of effective stewardship look at how water is consumed, used and put back into the ecosystem after use. Water itself is treated as a limited and shared resource that has to be handled with great care at every stage of the production and distribution processes.

With a large portion of the U.S. in a severe drought and the ongoing crisis situations involving water access worldwide, these types of water-saving practices are more important than ever before. No one company or industry can save the world’s water but billion-dollar brands working in concert may just help usher in an era of cleaner water for all.

Feature image courtesy of Manohar Dasari

By Jessica Oaks

Jessica Oaks is associate editor for Freshly Techy and a freelance writer covering technology, healthcare, finance, fashion, travel and more.