The massive amount of water use in the making of commercial products is often overlooked. But it only makes sense to assume that water use would account for a hefty portion of a company’s operating costs. And that assumption would be particularly true for beverage makers, like Coca-Cola.
The iconic soft drink company has been working towards a lofty goal. Coca-Cola wants to replenish 100 percent of the water used in its beverages and their production by 2020. That’s why the company has just announced a long-term global clean water partnership. It will team up with another firm called DEKA R&D to bring what is called the “Slingshot” technology to communities where potable water access is limited. Also getting on board is the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group and Africare. The entire team will work to bring Slingshot to needy communities in rural parts of Latin America and Africa.
The Slingshot is a water purification system that runs on low levels of electricity. The system boils and evaporates any dirty water source, including river water, ocean water and even raw sewage. It then allows the pure water to condense and be collected. One Slingshot unit can purify up to 300,000 liters of water each year. That’s enough daily drinking water for roughly 300 people. It can also produce 10 gallons of clean water an hour while consuming less than 1 kilowatt of electricity. That’s less than the amount of power needed to run a standard handheld hair dryer. The unit can be plugged into the local grid or can be powered by other renewable power sources such as solar cells and batteries.
In 2013, the entire team hopes to deliver millions of liters of clean drinking water to schools, health clinics and community centers in rural regions within Africa and Latin America.
“Water is becoming a scarce, valuable commodity. Today more than one billion people lack access to safe drinking water,” said Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company. “Water is the lifeblood of our business and our commitment is to ensure we’re doing our part to replenish the water we use and give it back to communities around the world. By partnering with DEKA R&D to bring the Slingshot technology to water-stressed communities in remote places, we hope to be able to deliver and maintain a clean water solution for many remote communities, changing the daily lives of thousands of people.”
So far, Slingshot has been tested at five schools outside Accra, Ghana. During the testing phase, it provided 140,000 liters of clean drinking water to 1,500 school children over a six-month period.