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Coca-Cola's Latest Environmental Scam

Under fire for its mismanagement of water resources in India, Coke has gone all out to create an image of itself as a leader in water conservation.

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The list of Coca-Cola's initiatives to mislead the public is long and is well documented by the India Resource Center. The company has repeatedly publicized the Golden Peacock Awards that it has received for "environmental excellence" in India, for example. What the company does not tell you is that Coca-Cola is the primary sponsor of the organization that gives out the awards.

Water Neutrality -- A Scam

The Coca-Cola Co. is now embarking on its latest initiative to mislead the public -- announcing its water neutrality goals. Becoming water neutral is impossible, and Coca-Cola is very well aware of this. But matters like that have never stopped the company from making preposterous claims, however misleading and troublesome they may be. What is surprising, however, is the complete lack of scrutiny that Coca-Cola is subject to by the corporate social responsibility community and the media.

Allowing Coca-Cola to get away with such a disingenuous plan significantly weakens the core aims of corporate social responsibility, as well as objective reporting, and makes CSR nothing more than an extension of public relations for companies. If the Coca-Cola Co. were serious about being a good corporate citizen, it is well advised to begin by meeting the key recommendations of the study it paid for, and shutting down its plant in Kala Dera would be a positive first step.

Coming up with misleading and absurd terms like water neutrality is not going to make the difficulties of the communities in India go away. We need genuine changes in the manner in which Coca-Cola does business in India, not public relations initiatives like water neutrality. 

Amit Srivastava is the coordinator of India Resource Center, an international campaigning organization in San Francisco.

 
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