The water footprint of soft drinks

From "ethical consumer", based on Ercin et al. (2011):

The water footprint of a soft drink, let's say a cola, taking into account the direct and indirect water use to produce the drink, ranges between 150 and 300 litres of freshwater per 0.5 litre bottle.

The water footprint of a soft drink is very sensitive to the production locations of the agricultural inputs.

The soft drinks sector faces significant challenges to become part of the solution by finding ways to capitalise on a growing need for healthier, more sustainable beverage options. Supply-chain management is key for beverage companies that aim to deliver sustainable products. That means looking "beyond the factory fence" and examining how the ingredients for their products are grown.

Unfortunately, organic and fair trade products are still a small part of product offerings. More and more companies are setting specific targets to increase the use of sustainably sourced and certified raw materials, such as sugar, where traceability is a challenge. And still, the industry has a long way to go in terms of setting broad and high sustainability standards and implementing robust monitoring systems. Transparency and communication is key to building sustainable supply chains and to becoming a true water steward.

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Ercin, A.E., Aldaya, M.M. and Hoekstra, A.Y. (2011) Corporate water footprint accounting and impact assessment: The case of the water footprint of a sugar-containing carbonated beverage, Water Resources Management, 25(2): 721-741.

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