Even as soft drinks giant Coca Cola finds itself embroiled in controversy over allegedly reckless groundwater extraction, its principal rival PepsiCo has won a corporate social responsibility award for its water management practices.
PepsiCo was the winner in the 'sustainability technology' category at the Responsible Business Summit 2010, hosted in London by Ethical Corporation magazine in London on 4 May. Global sustainable business practices consultancy SAP was the principal sponsor of this award.
The sustainability technology award seeks out the company which has developed or commercialised a technological innovation that has the potential to, or is already, making a serious impact on helping a company or industry sector move further towards sustainability, faster.
The citation for PepsiCo said, ''Agriculture in India uses over 80 per cent of the country's water. India is among the largest rice growers in the world. This company's R&D team perfected direct seeding of rice in 2009 and extended it to 6,500 acres throughout India, resulting in a savings of 5.5 billion litres of water. This significant reduction of water use helped the company achieve positive water balance – giving back more water than the business consumed.
''The company gives Indian farmers free access to the special seeding tractors and to field technicians who guide them through the cultivation process. The technology is also reducing costs for farmers by Rs1,400 per acre compared to traditional methods. An Indian government body said in 2009 that direct seeding also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by over 70 per cent.''
The judges felt this solution is an integrated solution to several related problems, water, greenhouse gas emissions in land use and food security. It has made a difference to both poverty alleviation and development. The initiative has also provided technology access that can bring great benefit to Indian stakeholders. PepsiCo's direct seeding of rice technology provides ''more crop per drop'' in India.
Highly commended in the same category was personal care products maker L'Oreal. Its citation said, ''In October 2009, this company opened the beauty industry's first plant, in Libramont, Belgium, that is carbon neutral and uses 100 per cent green energy. The first of its kind in Europe, the centre employs state-of-the-art technology to transform biomass from local farmers and the agro-alimentary industry into methane gas, which provides electricity and heat to the plant. The plant provides 100 per cent of the plant's electricity and 80 per cent of its heat.