Dispatches from The New York Times/Shell Oil 2012 Energy Summit titled Earth 2050: The Food Water Energy Nexus.
In Houston, the cost of water over the last five years has skyrocketed from $.50-$1 to $5–$6. That’s a 500% to 600% increase.
Joe Rozza, Global Water Resource Sustainability Manager for The Coca-Cola Company, projects that globally the cost of water will increase 200–300% over the next decade. Fortunately for Coke, it pays nothing for the water it extracts in many parts of the world. When asked why that was fair to local citizens whose aquifer gets depleted as Coke turns their water into an expensive sugary drink, Rozza answered that, in many cases, there was simply no one around to collect a fee. Hey, all you communities hosting a local bottling plant and not getting paid for the water Coke is using, it’s time to show up with a bill!
I asked Rozza what he thought it might cost if Coke had to pay for all the water it uses. He answered that it would be a small part of Coke’s costs of goods and, in fact, that he had no idea.
Yesterday, at the airport I paid $4.00 for a little of bottled water. More than I pay for a gallon of gas.
Wars have and will increasingly be fought over access to fresh water.
According to The New York Times, The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top-level state planning agency, is drafting plans to invest of as much as $31 billion in desalination equipment and technology. I bet Coke doesn’t get any free water in China.
Coke says that: “Our goal is to ensure the water we use in our manufacturing processes, everywhere in the world, will be returned to the environment at a level that supports aquatic life by 2010 through comprehensive wastewater treatment.”
That’s a good idea.
Coke also says that: “We have a role to play in helping the communities we rely upon. We know that to make a meaningful difference, we must focus our efforts beyond the confines of our own bottling plants. Today, nearly one-sixth of the world’s population – more than 1 billion people – don’t have access to safe drinking water. Approximately 2.6 billion don’t have adequate sanitation. Due to the issues surrounding water, billions of people are vulnerable to disease and food insecurity.”
That says to me that there’s a good reason for Coke to pay for the water it consumes.
What do you think?