Coke CEO Praises Slingshot Water Purifier As Soda Giant Targets 'Water Neutrality'
By Sara Jerome
Coca-Cola made a vow three years ago to become "water neutral" by 2020. So, how is that going to happen?
New technology is a major component, according to Coca-Cola Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent. One of the key inventions is "Slingshot," a vapor compression water purification machine.
Kent praised the technology in a recent interview with Marketplace, noting it can create 850 liters of safe drinking water from contaminated water of any kind while consuming very little energy.
“This is a really big deal. We believe that through our wide network of distribution and logistics, we can actually get these units to the last mile, where people don’t have a source of electricity, where people don’t have a source of clean drinking water, where people are dying,” Kent said.
Slingshot was invented by Dean Kamen, the brains behind the Segway. "He said he reached out to Coca-Cola for its vast distribution network and ability to deliver small products everywhere," Reuters reported. (As Water Online previously pointed out, he has been trying to get the Slingshot off the ground for more than a decade.)
How does Slingshot work?
For a detailed rundown on how the technology functions, check out this feature in HowStuffWorks. Coca-Cola explained it this way in its literature; "The Slingshot system of vapor compression distillation basically boils and then condenses any dirty water source. It is versatile and can use energy from many sources — a standard electric grid, solar cells, batteries, or even methane from animal dung."
Coke's interest in Slingshot is tied to the goal of creating 500 million liters of water within two years to give back to municipalities where it operates, according to Marketplace. The effort, overall, is to become "water neutral."
What does that mean, exactly? At least according to critics, "water neutrality" has so many definitions that it is ultimately a "slippery" term. Nevertheless, one water expert took a shot at defining it in The New York Times.
“At its simplest, the idea is that a corporation that is trying to be water-neutral will somehow compensate for the water they use in their processing — and on net, not use any excess water," said Peter Gleik, head of The Pacific Institute, a group helping the United Nations develop standards for corporate reporting of water use.
He added: "That’s the theory, but the practices are going to be more difficult.”
Image credit: "Coca-Cola Water," © 2005 @mjb, used under an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/