Did you know that today there are over 663 million people who do not have access to safe water near their homes? This water crisis prompted the United Nations General Assembly to designate the first World Water Day in 1993, and begin greater advocacy for sustainable management of freshwater resources. This year, the theme for World Water Day is wastewater and how we can reduce and reuse it. Wastewater is essentially water used for a purpose that makes it no longer usable as fresh, drinkable water. Unfortunately, the majority of wastewater flows back into the freshwater system without being properly treated or reused, potentially releasing chemicals and other materials into the environment.

Water stewardship is a significant component of The Coca-Cola Company’s sustainability efforts. We have goals to replenish 100% of the water we use to make our products globally by 2020 – which we achieved last year – and improve water efficiency in manufacturing operations by 25% by 2020.

An important part of our water stewardship strategy is to reuse wastewater or to safely treat the wastewater before returning it back to the watershed. This starts by minimizing the amount of water we use overall - in our Canadian facilities, we’ve saved over two billion litres of water since 2005. That’s the equivalent of almost 800 Olympic-sized swimming pools! We’ve also introduced systems which allow us to collect and reuse wastewater to clean our floors, our trucks and even water our facilities’ lawns. The wastewater that we are unable to reuse is properly treated by our municipal partners and then released.

We are also finding creative ways to encourage water conservation by re-purposing components of our manufacturing process. Coca-Cola has partnered with watershed conservation organizations, municipalities, universities and community groups to convert syrup drums to rain barrels. The barrels can help save money on water bills, conserve water during dry periods and prevent polluted runoff from entering local watersheds. In Canada we have donated over 6,000 rain barrels since 2008, conserving over 39 million litres of water!

Coca-Cola Canada continues to support community watershed projects through our great partnerships with Nature Conservancy of Canada, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Ducks Unlimited Canada and World Wildlife Fund.

Please share pictures of how you’re doing your part this World Water Day with us here.