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Coca-Cola Omits Issues In Sustainability Review

Coca-Cola Releases Sustainability Review
Does Not Mention Critical Issues in India

For Immediate Release
October 28, 2008

San Francisco (October 28, 2008): The Coca-Cola company released its 2007/2008 Sustainability Review yesterday, and surprisingly, critical issues facing the company's operations in India do not find mention in the review.

The Coca-Cola company gives itself high marks in its sustainability report which covers areas such as the workplace, environment and community engagement.

However, the omission of the issues facing the company in India - various community campaigns accusing the company of creating water shortages and pollution - raise the question whether Coca-Cola's sustainability report is an attempt to manufacture a green image of itself rather than actually addressing the critical challenges facing the company's operations.

"The media, the corporate social responsibility movement and everyone concerned with transparency and good corporate practices needs to take a good look at Coca-Cola's Sustainability Review. What kind of a review has Coca-Cola conducted by conveniently forgetting to mention its ongoing trouble spots where its operations are hugely unsustainable? This is an attempt by the company, once again, to mislead the public," said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, an international campaigning organization that works with the campaigns in India.

The omission of issues in India is particularly glaring given that a Coca-Cola company funded study, released in early 2008, highlighted severe shortcomings in the company's water management and pollution prevention practices in India, and questioned the sustainability of the company's operations in India.

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The Coca-Cola company was forced to agree to an assessment of its operations in India, the result of a sustained student campaign in the US. The assessment was conducted by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and some of the key findings included:

***A key recommendation that the Coca-Cola company shut down its bottling plant in Kala Dera because "the plant's operations in this area would continue to be one of the contributors to a worsening water situation and a source of stress to the communities around."

***Coca-Cola did not respect the rights of farmers and groundwater conditions, and that it had located its plants in India from a "business continuity" perspective without due consideration to community impacts.

***Coca-Cola did not meet the company's own waste management standards at all the plants surveyed.

***Shortcomings in the effluent discharge in four of the six plants assessed and concluded that Coca-Cola plants do not have adequate pollution prevention measures.

***Increased pollution in the immediate vicinity of Coca-Cola bottling plants.

In response to the growing criticism of its operations in India, the company has already announced that they will become water neutral in India by 2009. However, in the Sustainability Review, the company states that "we do not yet have a date for when we hope to attain water neutrality as a Company."

"Coca-Cola has jumped on this opportunity because the term water neutral has tremendous marketing opportunities and the potential to deflect attention away from the water crisis that the company is a significant part of. No matter that scientifically speaking, it is impossible to be water neutral," said Amit Srivastava.

"We are watching Coca-Cola's operations closely in India to see just how they become water neutral by 2009."

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