EWS officially handed over its first two ‘Gold level’ certifications to Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc. operational plants in Dongen, The Netherlands, in the Meuse River Basin District and to Coca-Cola Hellenic in Ploiesti, Romania, in the Danube River Basin District.
The EWS system helps industry and agriculture to respond to the objectives of the European Water Framework Directive to assess, improve, maintain and communicate sustainable water and ecosystem management. The standard provides technical advice and practical guidance to identify physical, regulatory and reputational risks associated with water use and to ensure compliance with legislation.
Sabine von Wirén-Lehr, European Water Stewardship (EWS) Director, explains: “The EWS standard requires companies to move beyond mere water accountancy and helps to actively respond to local water challenges. Communicating these efforts to stakeholders allows organizations to reinforce relationships with partners and customers and reassure them of responsible governance and water management."
Ulrike Sapiro, Environmental Sustainability Director at Coca-Cola Europe, adds: “At Coca–Cola, we understand the importance of sustainable, high quality, water resources to our business and the communities we serve. That’s why we made the global commitment to replenish the water we use in our products and to protect, reduce and recycle the water we use in our operations. The EWS standard helps our bottling partners to manage water as a vital part of our production and of the environment in which we operate.” The certification process performed a targeted on-site performance evaluation of both Coca-Cola bottling plants, identifying improvement and mitigation actions.
Certification bodies acknowledges the exemplary performance of both Coca-Cola sites
The final EWS Gold Status signifies that operators manage both sites to a high level, as they complied with more than 90% of the performance indicators in the EWS standard. According to Gyrogyi Acs of the independent third party certification body, Control Union, “The audit showed Coca-Cola’s commitment to water conservation, with efforts set into place to re-use water and to achieve further savings through a mix of monitoring, corporate best management practices and water saver tools, providing analyses for efficiency improvements. We are proud to grant gold level certificates to both bottling sites”
Coca-Cola has also worked hard to protect the groundwater sources, to report and assess on substances used on site, to develop protection for ecosystems in close vicinity to its operational sites and is deeply engaged with local stakeholders.
Both Coca-Cola bottlers will continue to work on addressing other recommendations in the standard, including the possibility of “sustainable water management” as criteria for sourcing requirements in the supply chain. Based on this first certification success, Coca-Cola Europe will continue to work with its bottling partners across the region to implement the EWS standard across all bottling sites in the coming years.
Increasingly threatened freshwater sources, meeting an increase in demand, gave way to an intensive stakeholder process organized by non-profit European Water Partnership (EWP), developing in 2008 the European Water Stewardship (EWS) program. The EWS is a cohesive system for business and agriculture to assess, improve, and communicate sustainable water management practices. EWS includes a standard, a certification, and communication scheme that make “business sense” for adherents by mitigating physical, regulatory, and reputational water-related risks and offering tried-and-true steps to secure water availability for the future.
The EWS standard sets concrete criteria for sustainable management addressing not only the protection of the water source but also water quality, stressing the importance of organized cooperation and collective action, and the link between the management of water with other natural resources like energy. Assessment of water use according to EWS requirements takes place via certification process with an on-site audit conducted by a EWS approved certification body (CB).
The certificate of compliance granted by the CB has full credibility and recognition by the European Union to the water user. The implementation process also provides internal information via training allowing for the establishment of benchmarking and target setting for water management. Incorporating these aspects into a long term site-specific management strategy ensures the longevity of any strategic improvements made.
Changes in corporate practice are essential to achieve progress in meeting the obligations and activities under the Danube River Protection Convention. The cooperation with the business and industry sectors is important for the long-term success towards achieving sustainable water management.