Coca-Cola, Ford Issue Sustainability Reports

Two corporate giants, Ford and Coca-Cola, released their sustainability reports this week.

To an investor or a business journalist, "earnings season" refers to the times of year when companies issue their annual or quarterly reports. They contain information about financial performance among other things, and are mandated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for publicly traded companies and a few other types of company, such as mutuals.

It could be that in the near future, we will see "sustainability report" season. Though not mandated by the government, more and more companies are recognizing the benefit of touting their efforts to lighten their environmental footprint.

Two corporate giants released their sustainability reports this week: Ford and Coca-Cola.

For Coca-Cola, this was the third annual report. The company, which uses enormous amounts of water and generates millions of cans and bottles' worth of aluminum and plastic waste all over the world, the report is designed to show that it is trying to mitigate these issues.

"This report shows that we are serious about our commitment to the environment," said Jeff Seabright, vice president, Environment & Water Resources. "We are changing the way we operate to use less water, less energy, and fewer raw materials, while improving our business efficiency. These changes make business sense and sense for the planet. We still have much to do, but our progress last year is documented in this report."

Among the highlights:

--Improved water use efficiency globally by more than 6%. In 2003, it took 2.90 liters of water to make one liter of beverage; last year it required just 2.72 liters of water to produce one liter of beverage.

--Announced a three-year, $2 million grant in support of the World Wildlife Fund’s freshwater conservation fund, working to restore five critical freshwater systems in the United States.

--Established rainwater harvesting programs at almost all Company plants in India, and initiated partnerships to set up rainwater harvesting projects in communities across the country.

The company has been embroiled in controversy surrounding its operations in India, most notably at its plant in Plachimada.

Coca-Cola says it is working on the "Coca-Cola Global Water Initiative" which is designed to assess water scarcity and water risk assessment in places where the company does business. The company also is working on a "global packaging strategy" to reduce waste from the packaging of its product.

The company's report can be found here: has issued a "Corporate Citizenship Report" since 2000 and this year changed the name to "Sustainability Report." The report contains information about such topics as mobility, climate change, and human rights. The company measured its progress in 2004 on many issues related to these topics.

"The term 'corporate citizenship' is still largely associated with corporate philanthropy or image building. While those things are important, sustainability goes further. It calls for better managing of environmental resources and social capital ”“ along with economic capital ”“ to create a stronger, more profitable business," said Niel Golightly, director, Sustainable Business Strategies, Ford Motor Company. "In this report, we have stated not only our sustainability accomplishments, but our challenges."

In the environment category, Ford reported that all of its facilities had used less energy and emitted less CO2 than last year. However, the average miles per gallon for the company's US fleet declined by 0.8 to 22.8 miles per gallon. (The figure includes cars, trucks, and SUVs.) Also, the combined CO2 emissions of the cars and trucks made by Ford in 2004 increased 11 grams per mile driven, to 386 per mile.

The company is making a commitment to increased fuel economy for its vehicles in Europe and Asia, however the report says that "(t)he United States has set fleet average motor vehicle fuel economy for over 25 years. To date Ford has always met the prescribed standards."

You can find Ford's full report here:

Source: CSRwire, Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Company