Coca-Cola is a household name and one of the world's mega brands. The company employs thousands of employees, and has relationships with countless businesses, large and small, around the world. Consumers of its products number in the billions.
Coca-Cola's actions touch upon many lives in many places, and the company's leaders recognise their environmental, economic and social sustainability responsibilities.
Globally, the Coca-Cola Company is in partnership with WWF to conserve the world’s freshwater resources and to achieve ambitious goals to reduce the company’s ecological footprint.
In Australia, the Coca-Cola Foundation has funded a WWF project to help improve the practices of sugar cane growers in Queensland and reduce chemical run-off onto the Great Barrier Reef. Project Catalyst is a pioneering partnership between the Coca-Cola Foundation, WWF, Reef Catchments, Terrain, NQ Dry Tropics, Bayer, the Australian Government and sugar cane farmers that is using innovative land practices to improve water quality and reduce the impact of pollution on this ecological and economic wonder of the world.
Our partnership with WWF has enabled us to develop one of our most important environmental stakeholder initiatives globally, Project Catalyst.
This innovative program is inspiring to so many and demonstrates how the private sector, governments and civil society who share a common vision can work together to accomplish amazing results with greater impact together.
The lessons we’re learning through Project Catalyst have the potential to reach other sugar cane-producing areas of the world. The good sustainable agricultural practices being pioneered are applicable globally – and not just for The Coca-Cola Company partners, but for the whole sugar cane industry.
Bea Perez, Chief Sustainability Officer, The Coca-Cola Company
Project Catalyst is a long-term project that is promoting ground-breaking shifts in thinking and behaviour within the sugar industry. It is testing and scientifically validating how improvements in farming practices can benefit farmers and the Reef.
Working with a group of 80 visionary sugar cane growers, the project is trialling techniques to improve nutrient, pesticide, and water management. Some practices, first evaluated by the project are being more widely adopted by the cane industry.
Importantly, these practices are improving the way in which fertiliser is applied to sugar cane. By tailoring the amount of fertiliser to match crop yields, more fertiliser is taken up by the crop and less is wasted that can move off-farm and become pollution entering the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.The use of less fertiliser and herbicide can also delivering higher returns to farmers, so it's a win-win for agriculture and the Reef.
The bottom line
The Great Barrier Reef is subject to many threats. The warming of our oceans as a result of climate change and predatory species such as the crown of thorns starfish are two of the most pressing.
The use of nitrate-based fertilisers in sugar cane-growing can, when poorly applied, flow through to the Reef in run-off and trigger a disastrous chain of events. Nutrients in the run-off feed algae and the algae provide more plentiful food than normal for the larvae of the crown of thorns starfish. This causes populations of the starfish to explode into the millions and destroy vast areas of coral, their favourite food.
The starfish also render the Reef vulnerable to other environmental threats, such as the coral bleaching that results from warming waters.
Improving the quality of run-off to the Reef is a key remedy. The practices being proven by Project Catalyst will, if widely adopted, lead to significant reductions in the levels of nitrates reaching the Great Barrier Reef.
Projects supported by The Coca-Cola Foundation