continued from Part 1
Stay Order Lifted on Cola
The cola companies never tire of talking about their sustainability initiatives. From a Water conservation and regeneration perspective, Pepsi talks more than Coke. Coke in its section on Sustainability makes a passing reference to water without much information beyond lip service.
Pepsi has over the past few years been talking about its Indian operations being Water Positive. It talks about helping harvest/ generate more water in the community than it uses to manufacture. Its four year old report on sustainability also talks about how it works with communities near its plants.
Thamirabharani Region Neglected in Pepsi’s Sustainability Efforts?
Pepsi somehow does not seem to have ‘wooed’ the Thamiraibharani area residents enough. Had they really understood the pulse of the people there and taken efforts to showcase their concern for the genuine needs of the farmers/ other stakeholders, the residents would not be seeing red to this extent.
The Writing on the Wall
People are increasingly seeing little value in ‘Cola.’ The Kerala people have already booted the cola companies’ manufacturing operations away from places like Palakkad. This was because of the drastic depletion in ground water due to these cola companies. Taking a lesson from this, Pepsi India may have started looking at some CSR initiatives on Water conservation etc. But its report is still atleast four years old.
Led by Indira Nooyi, Pepsi Corporation (worldwide) had last year given Motherhood statements about addressing societal needs including water concerns. But the fact that she had to make a personal visit to India to meet Mr Arun Jaitley is seen as an attempt to nudge things Cola’s way.
Corporate Cola and Big Pharma. People Vs Pepsi. Conscience Vs Coke.
In our opinion, the products of the Cola companies are still luxuries (i.e. their fringe products, fruit juices). There is enough informed opinion on their staple production (Cola) to frighten us enough to use them (on a regular basis) as toilet cleaners at best. Even packaged drinking water is not critical unless it is being supplied with a humanitarian purpose (and/or at a nominal price).
Big Pharma (including all the related unethical sectors) feeds on public fear of sickness to fatten itself. Cola companies obviously have not descended to the same level. But their delayed recognition of the harm caused by their products and the eco-logical impact of their processes is not very heart-warming.
Cola companies are slowly diversifying and trying to move towards being more responsible and sustainable corporate citizens. They are surely mature enough to understand that the best way they can build PR (public relations) is by actually letting their actions on the ground do the talking.