Local farmers help Coca-Cola to meet its goal

Project Catalyst growers from Queensland have helped Coco-Cola, one of the world’s largest multinational companies, track towards vital goals to improve water quality and sustainability.

Project Catalyst farmers Scott Simpson and Tony Jeppesen with Coca-Cola's Bea Perez

Coca-Cola’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Bea Perez with Project Catalyst cane farmers Scott Simpson (right) and Tony Jeppesen (left).

This October, Coca-Cola representatives toured the Mackay Whitsunday region and visited local sugarcane farmers as part of an announcement that Coca-Cola Company and its Australian bottling partner, Coca-Cola Amatil, are on track to meet their 2020 water replenishment goal by the end of 2015.

Based on global water replenishment projects to date, Coca-Cola operations in Australia are supporting the Coca-Cola system’s global progress toward its goal to replenish 100 percent of the water it uses by 2020. In Australia, Coca-Cola’s water replenishment progress is a direct result of Project Catalyst and the efforts to improve the quality of more than 100 billion litres of water flowing into the Great Barrier Reef.

Project Catalyst, a program that enables sugarcane growers to develop innovative and sustainable farming practices, helps reduce the level of sediment and chemical run-off from farms into river catchments that connect to the Reef.

In Australia, Project Catalyst is balancing the equivalent of 100 percent of the water used in Coca-Cola’s finished beverages, giving back to the Great Barrier Reef via the implementation of farming innovations, such as targeted soil analysis, digital mapping and precision farming practices.

Visitors to the Mackay Whitsunday area included the Coca-Cola Company’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Bea Perez.

“Water is a shared resource essential to our business and communities we serve,” said Ms. Perez. “Project Catalyst is one of the many water projects and partnerships supported globally by Coca-Cola, and we are proud of their leadership and achievements made in sustainable agriculture and watershed protection.”

WWF CEO, Dermot O’Gorman said, “Project Catalyst is making a valuable contribution to the effort to preserve the Reef. The lessons learnt are being passed on to the rest of the industry, with the aim that these become the best practice of tomorrow.

“These growers are taking responsibility and doing their part to safeguard and conserve one of the world’s natural wonders. Widespread adoption of best practice is a priority for the cane industry if we are to achieve the nutrient load reductions required to conserve the reef. Best practices such as those trialled by Project Catalyst, if widely adopted, will deliver a more efficient, profitable and sustainable cane industry; WWF will continue its support for the industry to make this transition,” he said.

Reef Catchments Manager, Katrina Dent said, “The primary purpose of Project Catalyst is to reduce the environmental footprint that sugarcane has on our waterways and the Great Barrier Reef, supporting a network of innovative farmers who are leading the way in adopting changed farm practices that improve water quality. Project Catalyst farmers are reducing agricultural runoff to the Great Barrier Reef by more than 180 tonnes each year and have improved soil, nutrient, pesticide, irrigation and storm water management on over 20,000 hectares of farm land – a terrific outcome.

“Project Catalyst growers, who are championing this sustainable initiative, are paving the way for change, thinking outside the box and taking action, which not only generates environmental outcomes, but also increases business profitability,” Ms. Dent said.

Speaking on her visit to Australia, Ms. Perez said, “It’s wonderful to see so many dedicated sugarcane growers band together to make a difference. Part of meeting our replenishment goal is engaging in diverse, locally focused community water projects, which work towards set objectives such as providing or improving access to safe water and sanitation, protecting watersheds, supporting water conservation and raising awareness on critical local water issues.

“We aim to ensure those projects remain sustainable within communities over time and continue to replenish water. Our commitment to water demonstrates how investing in nature can produce very positive returns for businesses and local communities,” she said.

Since 2004, Coca-Cola has replenished water back to communities and nature through 209 community water projects in 61 countries. The Company and its bottling partners plan to maintain 100 percent water replenishment as its business continues to grow.

About Project Catalyst

Now in its seventh year, Project Catalyst is a pioneering partnership between 78 innovative Queensland cane growers and major program partners – Reef Catchments, Catchment Solutions, NQ Dry Tropics, Terrain Natural Resource Management, the Australian Government, WWF and The Coca-Cola Foundation.

Project Catalyst is the first extension of The Coca-Cola Foundation’s global partnership with WWF into the South-Pacific.

The program aims to test, validate and promote the rapid adoption of innovative farm practices that improve water quality from cane farms impacting the Great Barrier Reef. Project Catalyst supports a network of sugarcane farmers from the Mackay Whitsunday, Burdekin and Wet Tropics region who are leading the use of cutting-edge practices for a more sustainable farming future.

To date, Project Catalyst growers have proven the effectiveness of innovative practices that can deliver significant water quality improvements to the Great Barrier Reef. Reductions of chemical, nutrient and sediment runoff from farms into freshwater estuaries, which connect to the Great Barrier Reef catchment, includes the following estimated total load reductions in 2014:

  • Decrease of 72 tonne/year for particulate nitrogen
  • Decrease of 34 tonne/year for particulate phosphorus
  • Decrease of 64 tonne/year for dissolved inorganic nitrogen
  • Decrease of 13 tonne/year for filterable reactive phosphorus
  • Decrease of 551 kg/year for pesticide

About Coca-Cola’s Water Replenishment Projects

In 2007, The Coca-Cola Company and its bottling partners set an aspirational goal to safely return to communities and nature an amount of water equivalent to what is used in its beverages and their production by 2020. The water footprint of growing agricultural ingredients sourced by the Coca-Cola system is not included in this goal. However, sustainable water practices are part of Coca-Cola’s Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles required for suppliers. The replenish projects are the result of partnerships with governments, civil society and other members of the private sector. Coca-Cola only calculates replenishment credit for the portions of the project that are directly funded or instituted by the Coca-Cola system.

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