Coca-Cola celebrates World Water Day with R25-million investment in water hyacinth removal

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Johannesburg, 22 March 2019— Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) has announced an investment of R25 million in Hya Matla, an innovative start-up whose core business is turning water hyacinth into fertiliser, animal feed and other agricultural products. Water hyacinth is an invasive species that grows in polluted water and further compromises water quality. The investment is being made through the Mintirho Foundation, CCBSA’s vehicle for supporting the development of historically disadvantaged farmers and small suppliers of inputs into the CCBSA value chain.
“Hya Matla caught our eye because its business model is to remove waste from precious and scarce natural resource—water, something on which our business is totally dependent,” says Noxolo Kahlana, Executive Manager CCBSA Mintirho Foundation. “To make this announcement on World Water Day is great timing because conserving our water supplies is critical, and something that CCBSA is committed to advancing.”
South Africa is a water-scarce country, yet many of its dams have been compromised by pollution, a situation that is exacerbated by invasive species like water hyacinth which further contaminate the water. Hartebeestpoort Dam, near Pretoria, is one of the most severely affected by rampant water hyacinth growth. The problem is a long-standing one and, so far, has resisted many eradication efforts. The dam’s utility for water storage and recreation has been steadily deteriorating as a result.
Another example of how seriously existing water reserves are threatened is the deployment of the SA National Defence Force to help stop the pollution of the Vaal River system by poorly maintained sewerage works.
The National Development Plan and, recently, President Ramaphosa’s Thuma Mina initiative, both rely on citizens—including corporate citizens like CCBSA—contribute to solving the large challenges that government is confronting. By investing in Hya Matla through the Mintirho Foundation, CCBSA is not only helping to clean up polluted waterways, it is also promoting the development of a black-owned company with an innovative and sustainable business model.
As a beverages company, CCBSA is committed to water stewardship within its own internal processes. In 2017, it announced savings of 726 million litres of water in its production processes as part of a commitment to reduce its total water consumption by 20 percent by 2020. This target was reached four years early, and was exceeded by 10 percent, for a total reduction of 30 percent.
“Water security is a national issue: all life depends on water and without sufficient water the economy will not grow either—it’s vital that we all do our part in conserving the water we have. Our investment in Hya Matla is very exciting because it turns waste into agricultural inputs while cleaning our common capital of water,” Name concludes. “Because they are profit-driven, initiatives like these are potentially very powerful and sustainable, and can make a significant contribution to overcoming a national challenge that would otherwise consume huge amounts of state money often to little effect.”

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