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Belgian Chaudfontaine obtains worldwide AWS certificate for sustainable water management

The Belgian mineral water bottling plant Chaudfontaine has obtained the platinum certificate for sustainable water management from the worldwide Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS).

The certificate for sustainable water management is something that can be achieved worldwide.

Achmed Boumrah, director of the mineral water bottling plant in Chaudfontaine, said: “Protecting our resources and actively collaborating with stakeholders on water management are top priorities. We are therefore very proud that our efforts and the 590 measures we have taken in recent years are now also officially recognized,”.

The protection of sources to ensure the highest quality mineral water, and minimal water consumption in the bottling plant, have been a main focus for Chaudfontaine for several years.  The site makes sustainability a priority and aims to be one of the first Coca-Cola sites in Europe to be climate neutral by 2023. Since 2008, no less than € 1.8 million has been invested in 590 measures to secure the 250-hectare water extraction area and to keep it free from any pollution.

These efforts are bearing fruit. In 2013, the mineral water bottling plant in Chaudfontaine obtained the gold EWS certificate (European Water Stewardship). The company has now achieved the global platinum certificate from the AWS, a recognition that can be given worldwide in the field of sustainable water management. AWS is an organization that operates worldwide and collaborates with companies, NGOs and governments. This AWS standard is a global system of rules regarding, among other things, water management, sustainable water balance and water quality.

“In 2013, we certified the Chaudfontaine site for EWS and now for AWS based on a well-prepared audit. The results were so positive that the highest certification level could be awarded: Platinum,” explains AWS coordinator of Control Union Certifications B.V., Eerik Schipper. "As a crucial player in local water management, this certification is important for all stakeholders."


All pollution in a 250 hectare water catchment area tackled

Director of the mineral water bottling plant in Chaudfontaine Achmed Boumrah is extremely proud: “This AWS certificate is a great recognition of everything we have done in recent years,” he says. “In collaboration with the Walloon government and the University of Liège, all possible sources of pollution in the 250-hectare water extraction area around the site were mapped out and tackled. For example, all fuel tanks (552 in total) belonging to local residents were protected or removed so that the water could certainly not be contaminated in the event of a leak. Every five years, we also perform a new source water vulnerability assessment to map the sustainability of the water sources and potential risks to local communities and the ecosystem. For this Chaudfontaine, for example, cooperates with ‘Contrat Rivière Vesdre’, which is responsible for the biodiversity of the river Vesdre that runs along Chaudfontaine.

“Local agriculture within this protected area is also subject to strict rules. There is a broader check on the use of pesticides in the neighborhood. Researchers also regularly check the soil for nitrates and heavy metals so that they can intervene immediately if contamination is detected. Furthermore, the wells themselves were equipped with new pipes and ventilation and they are well sealed to prevent contamination. For example, all wells are completely sealed and security is provided. With these extra safety measures we want to ensure that our water, which has been purified in rock layers up to about 1,600 meters deep for at least 60 years, still has exactly the same quality for the next generations.


New step in Coca-Cola's sustainable water policy

For Coca-Cola, the AWS certificate for Chaudfontaine, the group's Belgian mineral water brand, is an important new step in its strong ambitions for a more sustainable water policy. Coca-Cola also wants to return 100% of the water it uses in its drinks back to nature by 2025. The company is already doing this through collaborations of The Coca-Cola foundation with Natuurpunt and Natagora. By the end of 2020, 39% of the water used in Belgium went back to nature and there are several projects in the pipeline to increase this figure. By 2025, Coca-Cola also wants to use 20% less water in its production (compared to 2010). At the end of 2020 this was 13.5%.

“Water is extremely precious. Every drop counts for Chaudfontaine. That is why they work hard with their partners, and the more than 2,000 colleagues, to meet the challenges of sustainable water management and thus secure the future of drinkable water for all. It is fantastic that our efforts in Chaudfontaine are now internationally recognized with the AWS certificate”, concludes An Vermeulen, VP & Country Director Belgium-Luxembourg at Coca-Cola European Partners.

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