PET bottles, one of the most widely used materials in the world, are used to package foods and drinks from soda and juices to salad dressings and cooking oils. It is also completely recyclable. In the United States alone, 1.5 billion pounds of PET bottles are recycled annually.
Throughout my travels to low and middle-income countries I see PET bottles thrown haphazardly in fields and streams clogging waterways and dirtying sidewalks and walking paths. In countries such as Nepal (where I visited last year with Coca-Cola), there are concerted educational efforts by environmentally focused NGOs to change behaviors around discarding PET bottles. There are recycling centers in Nepal, but not enough to completely clean its streets and countryside. It seems to be a sisyphean battle to combat PET bottle waste, but there are some who are using the bottles in innovative ways.
Continue reading 2 Innovative Uses of PET Bottles in Low-Income Countries That Benefit Women
When I stepped out of the U.S. Forest Service SUV after nearly a two-hour scenic autumn drive from Taos, New Mexico to the Carson National Forest, we were standing in an expansive valley so big that huge cows below us looked like mere dots in the distance. We had finally arrived at Valle Vidal, a massive grassy meadow with vistas as far as the eye could see and elevations reaching close to 13,000 feet in Carson National Forest. Even though Valle Vidal is overwhelmingly beautiful to take in its environmental impact is being increasingly hampered by major stream and groundwater degradation that needs immediate remedying in order to protect fish and wildlife as well as to store more ground water for communities downstream.
I was in New Mexico visiting the Carson National Forest with Coca-Cola North America’s sustainability team last week to learn about their water restoration efforts in northern New Mexico as well as the company’s overarching nationwide partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and National Forest Foundation that replenished 1 billion liters of water to nature and communities reaching 60 million people in the United States. Coca-Cola also recently announced that it has successfully reached one of its principle global sustainability milestones ahead of schedule to effectively balance its water usage in its beverages and production. Coca-Cola has reached its goal five years ahead by replenishing 191.9 billion liters of water across the globe in 71 countries. In the United States, Coca-Cola North America has pledged to double the 1 billion liters of water that it has already replenished by 2018.
Continue reading How and Why Coca-Cola is Restoring Water to Our National Forests
By Mike Muller, University of the Witwatersrand
Inadequate infrastructure is widely recognised to be holding back Africa’s development and lowering the quality of life of its citizens. The traffic jams of Nairobi, the power cuts of Nigeria or the water shortages that currently afflict Harare and Bulawayo are some of these.
The same is true in fast-growing regions of Latin America and many parts of Asia. It is widely agreed from Addis Ababa to Brasilia, New Delhi and beyond that infrastructure investment is a priority.
But what kind of infrastructure is needed? Developed countries that enjoy a legacy of decades of infrastructure investment are trying new approaches. Since their cities and populations are growing slowly, their primary concern is now simply to maintain and improve what is already in place and make it more sustainable.
So, there is growing interest in using what they call green infrastructure – such as natural systems like wetlands – to provide services such as water storage and treatment.
Continue reading Why Promoting Green Infrastructure in Africa May Be Bad for Development
Coleen Vogel, University of the Witwatersrand
When it comes to climate change Africa is in the eye of the storm. This is partly because of human factors – but the continent’s climate also makes it extremely vulnerable.
Africa is faced with a number of interlinked challenges. These include land degradation, poverty and climate change. These are referred to as “wicked problems” since they are complex and caused by a number of factors, many of which have global dimensions.
In the case of climate change, Africa is vulnerable because it is exposed to damaging climate risks including extreme droughts, flooding and storms.
The continent also has low adaptive capacity making it particularly vulnerable and exposed
because of high rates of poverty, financial and technological constraints as well as a heavy reliance on rain-fed agriculture.
Solving these challenges can seldom be achieved with a one-size-fits-all approach.
Continue reading Why Africa is Particularly Vulnerable to Climate Change