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PepsiCo India to impact 100,000 by water initiatives

New Delhi : Often in the news along with its larger rival Coca-Cola India for alleged overexploitation of groundwater, PepsiCo India announced last month that it plans to make all its manufacturing plants water positive in the country.

The company said its beverage business was the first beverage business in India to achieve positive water balance in 2009. The company said it retained and improved its positive water balance achievement in 2010 and replenished more than 10.1 billion litre of water as compared to a total intake of approximately 5.8 billion litre by its manufacturing facilities.

PepsiCo India's Head-CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Annie Kishen told Girish Chadha of India Water Review that the company is making efforts to implement initiatives towards positive water balance at feasible locations – wherever it is a water stress location and it’s feasible to implement water replenishment structures.

PepsiCo India has achieved positive water balance in India last year but is making efforts to make its plants in India replenish more water than consumed by 2015. What does this mean? Does it mean that in some places, the water balance has been overachieved while in others, PepsiCo India is still not water positive?

As you may be aware, Pepsico India’s beverage business was the first beverage company in India to achieve positive water balance in 2009. We are pleased to share with you that we retained and improved our positive water balance achievement in 2010. We replenished or saved more than 10.1 billion litre of water as compared to a total intake of approximately 5.8 billion litre by our manufacturing facilities.

We were able to give back to society much more water than we used to manufacture our products by recharging and replenishing water through various initiatives in agriculture and replenishing water in communities around our manufacturing plants.

What this means is that we are water positive at the country wide level.

Our next goal is to achieve positive water balance around our plants located in water stressed geographies. We have made good progress towards this goal, and in 2010 we also achieved location specific positive water balance at three plant neighbourhoods (Aurangabad, Neelamangala and Panipat) through interventions such as check dams and ponds that have been created to improve water availability.

Are efforts now being made to be water positive in and around all manufacturing plants across India, whether it be company-owned or franchise-owned? Has PepsiCo India made a target to be water positive in all plants, in which a positive water balance has not been achieved, by 2015?

Yes, we are now making efforts to implement initiatives towards positive water balance at feasible locations – wherever it is a water stress location and it’s feasible to implement water replenishment structures.

It needs to be recognised that it is not feasible/desirable to be water positive at all manufacturing locations. Specifically, at plants located in urban centres, while we do have rainwater harvesting systems in place, it is physically not possible to create large water harvesting systems/check dams either inside the plant or in adjoining communities.

How many plants are there in which positive water balance has been achieved so far?

In 2010, we achieved location specific positive water balance at three plant neighbourhoods (Aurangabad, Neelamangala and Panipat) through interventions such as check dams and ponds that have been created to improve water availability.

In which plants (some in Punjab and Tamil Nadu are mentioned in news reports) is the initiative being taken up first? By when would these plants achieve positive water balance?

We plan to implement the initiative first in Punjab and then in Tamil Nadu. The potential and water balance numbers for each location gets finalised during the final assessment/implementation.

What is the overall investment being put into this CSR activity of replenishing water around the manufacturing plants?

As Pepsico is a company listed on Wall Street, we cannot share the activity linked specifics of our investment numbers. However, we can say that since our water journey started in about eight years ago, we have invested substantial dollars in equipments and processes to making our plants water efficient, rainwater harvesting systems within our plants, community water projects around our plants, and water conservation in agriculture through direct seeding of paddy and drip irrigation in potato.

By 2015, how many people does PepsiCo India intend to directly impact with the water initiative?

We plan to impact between 75,000 to 100,000 people by 2015.

Which are the areas in which PepsiCo India expects to find the going tough in terms of getting the water balance positive due to external factors including topographical factors?

We expect to be able to implement some initiatives such as simple roof or water harvesting initiatives at almost all critical/needy locations. The potential and numbers for each location gets finalised during the final assessment/implementation.

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