Coca-Cola announces long-term partnership with DEKA R&D to help bring clean water to communities in need

Posted: 25 September 2012 | Coca-Cola | No comments yet

“Today more than one billion people lack access to safe drinking water,”

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To further advance The Coca-Cola Company’s goal to replenish 100 percent of the water used in its beverages and their production by 2020 and support sustainable communities, the Company announced a long-term global clean water partnership with DEKA R&D to bring DEKA President Dean Kamen’s “Slingshot” technology to communities where potable water access is limited. The Company and DEKA R&D will also partner with Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group and Africare to bring the Slingshot technology to communities in need in rural parts of Latin America and Africa, respectively.

The Slingshot water purification system uses a vapor compression distillation system that runs on low levels of electricity. The system boils and evaporates any dirty water source — river water, ocean water and even raw sewage — and then allows the pure water to condense and be collected. One Slingshot unit can purify up to 300,000 liters of water each year — enough daily drinking water for roughly 300 people — producing 10 gallons of clean water an hour while consuming less than 1 kilowatt of electricity, which is less than the amount of power needed to run a standard handheld hair dryer. The unit can be plugged into the local grid or can be powered by other locally available and renewable power sources such as solar cells, batteries, and DEKA’s Stirling electric generator powered by biogases such as methane from local waste sources.

In 2013, the intent of the partnership is to deliver millions of liters of clean drinking water to schools, health clinics and community centers in rural regions of countries within Africa and Latin America which have already been identified as the areas of focus for the Slingshot placements next year. Longer term, the Company and DEKA will form additional partnerships and expand the effort to also install thousands of units to be operated and maintained annually in communities in India, the Middle East and Asia, in addition to Africa and Latin America. When fully scaled, the partnership is expected to add more than half a billion liters of clean drinking water per year to the global water supply.

“Water is becoming a scarce, valuable commodity. Today more than one billion people lack access to safe drinking water,” said Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company. “Water is the lifeblood of our business and our commitment is to ensure we’re doing our part to replenish the water we use and give it back to communities around the world. By partnering with DEKA R&D to bring the Slingshot technology to water-stressed communities in remote places, we hope to be able to deliver and maintain a clean water solution for many remote communities, changing the daily lives of thousands of people.”

Before entering into this partnership, Coca-Cola and DEKA R&D conducted a successful field trial of the Slingshot technology at five schools outside Accra, Ghana, in 2011, providing 140,000 liters of clean drinking water to 1,500 school children over a six-month period. The Slingshot systems experienced very few issues and were able to operate based on the available electricity supply, working despite frequent power outages in the villages where they were located.

“Having a longstanding relationship with The Coca-Cola Company, my team and I knew we could make a great partnership and leverage our innovative water-purification machine for greater good,” Kamen said. “DEKA designed the Slingshot technology to be adaptable to any location, to be able to purify a broad spectrum of inorganic and organic contamination types, and to use any locally available power source, whether it is electricity from a grid, from renewable power installations, or even our own Stirling power generator. For years we looked for a partner who could help us get the Slingshot machine into production, scale it up, bring it down the cost curve, and deliver and operate the units in the places where the need is greatest. Now we have that partner with Coca-Cola who brings unparalleled knowledge of working, operating and partnering in the most remote places in the world. Being able to bring clean, potable drinking water to people in need and being a part of Coca-Cola’s water commitment, is taking this technology to a new level. We’re proud to be a part of delivering this solution to communities in need; saving countless hours for those who routinely spend up to four hours a day walking to often wait in line for dirty water that is unfit to consume.”

The Company and DEKA R&D are actively working to secure partnerships with leading non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and development banks to help fund the projects, identify locations and support placement and on-the-ground support efforts moving forward. The companies will partner with Africare, a leading NGO in Africa, to field test Slingshot units in health clinics in the Eastern Cape of South Africa in 2013. The units will provide clean drinking water to the health clinics, which operate an HIV/AIDS intervention program that Africare is leading with support from The Coca-Cola Foundation.

“Equipping health care clinics with Slingshot water purification systems is an extension of the life-saving work Coca-Cola is enabling through Africare, which for years has included committing funding, expertise and critical resources to support our work with people affected by HIV and AIDS throughout Africa,” said Darius Mans, President, Africare. “The Slingshot technology will enhance the quality of care clinics are providing by significantly decreasing the burden of accessing clean water, which is essential in any healthcare setting. It truly is a critical use for this ingenious technology that will have an immediate and tangible positive impact on the people of Africa.”

Coca-Cola and DEKA R&D will also partner with IDB and the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of IDB Group, to initially test the Slingshot technology in remote communities in Latin America in 2013. During the first phase of this partnership, the Slingshot technology will be employed in health centers, schools and rural communities where there is an urgent need to complement inadequate water systems in rural communities in Latin America.

“Providing access to safe drinking water on a sustainable basis remains a pressing challenge in many rural and marginal urban areas of Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Luis Alberto Moreno, President, IDB Group. “This partnership with Coca-Cola and DEKA will allow us to test new models for bringing this vital service to extremely poor and remote communities.”

Kent continued, “Our sustainability initiatives have reinforced over and over again our belief in the power of collaboration. Global challenges like water scarcity are bigger than any one company or organization and require us to think and partner beyond our own circles. Only through collective action and innovation will we achieve results where it’s most important.”

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