Asia Pacific is where 52 percent of the world’s population lives. Countries in this region come in every shape, size and stage of development, which gives our company great opportunity.  The lessons learned about our brands and the people who love them on our continued growth journey are being applied and adjusted as needed across many of our markets. The same approach is used for our sustainability initiatives as we look to apply learnings to help mitigate common social and environmental challenges in the region.

While doing business the right way isn’t always the easy way, it’s essential to the success of our business and, more importantly, our planet.

One of the biggest challenges our region faces is plastic waste “leakage” into the ocean. Asia is home to the top five countries vital to addressing the marine plastic challenge. This means our company’s World Without Waste global goal—to help collect and recycle one bottle or can for every one we sell by 2030—is perhaps most important here in Asia Pacific.

The key opportunities we’ve identified to help support this initiative in our region include addressing PET collection systems, raising public awareness, creating and promoting public-private partnerships and establishing recycling infrastructure. We won’t reach solutions overnight or by ourselves, but they must come, and we aim to play an important role in achieving progress.

"Our company’s World Without Wasteglobal goal—to help collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one we sell by 2030—is perhaps most important here in Asia Pacific."

We have been fully engaged with our bottling partners, industry and stakeholders on innovative collection, design and partnership solution-oriented ideas and actions even before the global announcement. In 2017, Coca-Cola supported the first-ever ASEAN Conference on Reducing Marine Debris. At the two-day conference – hosted by Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, in coordination with the ASEAN Secretariat, UN Environment and other expert organizations – more than 200 participants from government, civil society and industry discussed policies, initiatives and best practices; identified gaps and challenges; and discussed collaborative, cross-sector opportunities.

Also in 2017, Coca-Cola and five other consumer goods companies in Indonesia joined in a pioneering alliance, PRAISE (Packaging and Recycling Alliance for Indonesia Sustainable Environment), to advance plastic waste solutions aligning with the Indonesian government’s move toward a “circular economy” approach to waste management. The Coca-Cola Vietnam team also initiated work on plastic waste management in a new partnership with government and industry to support the “Zero Waste to Nature” project in Ho Chi Minh City.

In Sri Lanka, we’re part of a new multi-stakeholder PET recycling initiative to create business models to introduce four fully operational PET collection centers in strategic locations. Similarly, in Nepal, a multi-stakeholder project in partnership with the Himalayan Initiative established and operated the first PET bottle collection system. In India, we are partnering with UNDP, GIZ (write out the full name, indicating the German government development agency), Tetra Pak and other civil society groups on a number of initiatives to ensure proper segregation and collection of plastic waste and better waste management practices. In Mumbai, we initiated marine waste management and recycling programs that are focused on engaging citizens, local government and key stakeholders in spreading awareness on these critical topics for the region.

In Malaysia, the “Recycle to Cycle” partnership expanded from one to five universities in 2017. The first of its kind program, which Coca-Cola began in 2013, encourages students to recycle PET bottles and aluminum cans in exchange for the use of bicycles and safety helmets to commute to classes and now includes some 7,000 bicycles – up from its original fleet of 200. In Japan, we received a biomass award in 2017 for design work related to PlantBottle. With the expansion of rPET use, now more than 50 percent of PET bottles produced by Coca-Cola Japan are PlantBottle or use rPET.

Finally, as part of our World Without Waste initiative, we are supporting Circulate Capital, an initiative created in collaboration with Closed Loop Partners, the Ocean Conservancy and a few other like-minded companies precisely to prevent the flow of ocean plastic in South and Southeast Asia. Our goal is to finance companies and initiatives that focus on waste collection, processing, sorting and manufacturing. We seek investments which demonstrate not only that these projects keep plastic out of the ocean, but that returning recycled commodities to the supply chain is profitable.

Beyond packaging, Coca-Cola Philippines celebrated 2017’s International Women’s Day by announcing that 40,000 women micro-entrepreneurs in the Philippines would be economically empowered in 2017 in support of our company’s global 5by20?  initiative. Coca-Cola Malaysia launched both Komuniti Usahawan (Entrepreneurs Community), along with the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives & Consumerism (MDTCC) in 2017 helping bring essential business training to Malaysian women entrepreneurs, and an innovative mobile training app to offer business knowledge to Ramadhan Bazaar operators. Together these programs reached over 9,000 women participants in 2017.

In Bangladesh, Coca-Cola has set up over 40 Women Business Centers (WBC) which cumulatively have economically empowered over 40,000 women entrepreneurs by providing access to business skills training, market information, agriculture training, mobile banking assistance, healthcare counselling, mentoring and networking opportunities.

We worked with 930 young Australian women in 2017 through the MyRoad program, which has helped nearly 1,600 women gain employment since its launch in 2016. Qualitative program research indicates that 95 percent of program participants felt they had more career confidence post-program, 96 percent said they gained an understanding of their transferrable skills and 97 percent said they are able to set future goals.

When our business is at its best, this is how we work to create shared opportunity through growth that benefits communities everywhere.

Lastly, significant water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs are also underway in Asia Pacific.

In China, we’re collaborating with public and private partners to provide safe drinking water to rural children. By the end of 2017, working with more than 60 NGOs and 500 volunteers, Coca-Cola China had helped provide more than 1,400 water purifiers to 1,200 rural schools across 26 provinces, donated water bottles and conducted hygiene trainings, with combined efforts benefiting more than 500,000 students. A WASH program in Myanmar initiated and funded by Coca-Cola is bringing safe drinking water, basic sanitation infrastructure and education to villages around Coca-Cola Pinya Beverages, Myanmar’s bottling plant in Hmawbi. By the end of 2017, this program has benefited 13,500 villagers in three neighboring villages.

Our water leadership efforts also extend to watershed protection. As the world geared up for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, Coca-Cola worked with civil society and government partners to create a collaborative water resource management project to contribute to building a sustainable clean water environment for the Republic of Korea. Partnering with World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee, the Gangwon Provincial Government, Korea Park Service and Ecogreen Campus, the project’s objective beyond PyeongChang is to improve biodiversity and to protect the local habitat by building sustainable water resources. This is just one of many watershed protection projects we work on across Asia Pacific.

In China, we partnered with UNDP and local authorities to create artificial wetlands, an innovative water-replenishing solution that helps treat the wastewater from the booming eco-tourism business. This partnership has been recognized as one of the most innovative poverty-alleviation projects in China.

Making strides in our sustainability programs is a priority for our region and our company. These highlights are only a snapshot of the projects we have underway. Asia Pacific is working every day across many countries to contribute to a healthier, productive world. We understand we have a long way to go, and we continue to grow and improve our programs to deliver positive outcomes for our region and our world.

Our Asia Pacific group has an industry retail value of $275 billion. The group covers more than 4.5 billion consumers and serves more than 15 million customers across five business units: Greater China & Korea, ASEAN, Japan, India & South West Asia and South Pacific.