Pepsi India touches eco watershed, first unit to achieve positive water balance

NEW DELHI: THE Indian arm of PepsiCo has become the first of its global units to put more water back into the environment than it consumes, the company said.

The beverage giant has achieved ‘positive water balance’ by recharging 6 billion litres and using 5.17 billion litres during 2009 with a net saving of 836 million litres. PepsiCo, which has 45 beverage bottling and snacks plants in India, said the figures were verified by audit firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India.

“As the first business in our system and probably the entire beverage world to conserve and replenish more water than it consumes, PepsiCo India is a huge inspiration for all of us. I am proud of this accomplishment,” PepsiCo Chairman & CEO Indra Nooyi told ET. The India model will be replicated in PepsiCo’s other markets which face water scarcity, such as China.

PepsiCo India chairman and CEO Sanjeev Chadha said India is a water-distressed market but the solution to water replenishment is “basic and simple.” “If corporates get together and step up efforts like direct seeding, it would lead to very positive results.”

But environment activists are not entirely pleased with PepsiCo’s efforts. Sunita Narain of the Centre for Science and Environment said she would like to see companies achieve positive water balance, but this must happen within their factory compounds. “It would be ideal if PepsiCo was replenishing all the water it consumes in areas where its plants are located. The scarcity and problem lies in those areas,” she said.

PepsiCo said it has achieved water balance through conservation in agriculture to substitute transplanting of paddy with direct seeding technology, community programmes like construction of check-dams and recharge ponds, and rain or roof-water harvesting.

Recharge ponds have helped it save 133 million litres of water. The World Bank has warned that growing shortage of water in large countries such as India and China will hamper their growth. It estimates that India’s fresh-water supplies could be exhausted by 2050 at the current rate of consumption. In March this year, a Kerala Assembly panel asked PepsiCo to cut water usage by 60% at its bottling plant in Puducheri in Palakkad district.

A company spokesman said its Palakkad facility is a “model plant and one of the most water-efficient units in the PepsiCo system. The plant has been able to save about 200 million litres of water in the last four years and has also brought down the water usage by 60%.” Rival Coca-Cola is facing a more serious situation in the state. It has been asked by a government panel to pay Rs 216 crore as compensation for polluting and depleting groundwater.

Source : Business Standard.  27/05/10

 

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