2019 Sustainability Report

Responsible water management

Water is one of the world’s most precious and vital resources. As populations grow, so does the significant pressure on its availability.

We are committed to ensuring that we use water responsibly and, ultimately, sustainably.

The demand for drinkable water is increasing. Climate change and increased agricultural and industrial use of water threaten supply.

The United Nations expects two-thirds of the world population to be short of water by 2025. The World Economic Forum has identified water crises as one of the risks that will have the biggest impact on the world over the next decade. Businesses that use a lot of water will need to address this and will come under scrutiny. Our businesses understand that long-term access to water depends on the responsible use of water now.

Why is water material to us?

Our businesses depend on and affect water. Some of our businesses use a lot of water in production, including where it is scarce and non-availability is a risk. Water stress can affect our suppliers, our communities and the biodiversity of the areas in which we operate.

We aim to use water responsibly and sustainably and to protect our water sources. We abide by all local wastewater treatment laws, and in many cases exceed them. By doing this, we protect our own resources and help the communities in which we operate to have access to safe, good quality, water.

For Swire Coca-Cola, this is already a priority. More information on its approach to water management can be found in its Sustainable Development Report.

Using water efficiently and in accordance with best practice will reduce costs and contribute to global efforts to protect the availability of clean, safe and affordable water.

Water risk

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that for every 1°C increase in global temperature, 7% of the world’s population face decreased freshwater availability. Water availability is dependent on climate conditions in watersheds. Climate change can disrupt the natural water cycle. We must understand our exposure to water-related risks.

We have started to map our businesses by reference to areas of water stress. This will help us to strengthen our water security and to build capacity, adaptability and resilience for the future planning and management of water resources. Some of our businesses have reviewed their exposure to water risks.

Swire Properties has assessed its exposure to the following water risks in Hong Kong, Mainland China and Miami:

  • physical risks associated with water stress and low groundwater availability
  • regulatory risks from new rules on water use
  • operational risks associated with water efficiency in its buildings
  • economic risks from higher water tariffs

The assessment has been incorporated into Swire Properties’ climate risk assessment.

Swire Coca-Cola – Understanding our water risks

Swire Coca-Cola – Understanding our water risks

Managing water resources requires a local approach, including understanding local policies and collaboration with others. To understand the local water situation, each Swire Coca-Cola bottling plant has evaluated its local water risks, including quality and availability, using a The Coca-Cola Company source vulnerability assessment. This evaluates water supply, water infrastructure, land use and long-term demand for water.

All source vulnerability assessments are conducted by water resources experts who have a minimum of five years of professional experience. Following assessment, each plant prepares a source water protection plan, which is updated every five years or as required by The Coca-Cola Company. Swire Coca-Cola aims to have its assessments and plans verified by third parties by 2025.

Swire Coca-Cola also refers to geospatial water risk data from the World Resources Institute.

The maps below show the extent to which the bottling plants of Swire Coca-Cola and its co-packers are exposed to water risks.

Greater China USA
Source: AQUEDUCT World Resources Institute (2019)

Water supply is a material risk in the USA, given the desert locations of bottling plants. Water quality is a material risk in Southern China due to its proximity to industry and high population density. This mix of geographical and social factors mean that Swire Coca-Cola needs a diversified and thorough water stewardship strategy. A broad approach to water risk is necessary.

Group performance

In 2019, we used 18.4 million m3 of water, an 8% increase from 2018. This mainly reflects a higher demand for water at Swire Coca-Cola and Swire Properties. Swire Coca-Cola accounted for 78.4% of our water use.

Swire Coca-Cola used 7.2% more water in 2019, mostly due to the inclusion of water used at branches of Coca-Cola Bottlers Manufacturing Holdings in Mainland China and at a water production line in Xiamen.

Swire Properties saw a 32% increase in water consumption due to the inclusion of HKRI Taikoo Hui and the Middle House in Shanghai. The temporary shift to freshwater instead of salt water for toilet flushing at Cityplaza mall and Cityplaza One in Hong Kong also contributed.

The Trading & Industrial division used less water, reflecting the sale of Swire Pacific Cold Storage in August 2018 and decreased production at Qinyuan Bakery.

Water consumption at Swire Pacific Offshore is immaterial and is not included in the report.

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Water consumption by division

(Thousand cubic metres)

Water consumption by division

(Thousand cubic metres)

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Property 961 1,210 1,169 1,552 1,390 1,519 2,007
Aviation 1,419 1,505 1,478 1,576 1,603 1,608 1,544
Beverages 6,077 6,517 7,105 7,585 8,847 13,439 14,402
Marine services 52 42 57 77 115 85 84
Trading & industrial 116 165 155 178 492 402 324
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Performance against SwireTHRIVE target

(Thousand cubic metres)

Performance against SwireTHRIVE target

(Thousand cubic metres)

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Frozen Efficiency 9,408 10,470 10,991 17,794 18,511 19,201
SwireTHRIVE Target 9,408 10,816 10,964 17,594 18,132 18,550
Total water consumption 8,625 9,439 9,964 10,938 12,447 17,053 18,361
Performance Against Target 5.90% 1.13% 13.53% -3.07% 1.26%

We set water intensity targets and encourage operating companies to use water more efficiently. We aim to reduce our water consumption by 3-4% from the 2015 frozen efficiency baseline from which performance is projected, with the assumption of no improvement in current efficiencies. In 2019 we missed the target by 1.26%.

Our water policy

The Swire Water Working Group includes members from across our operating companies and supports the implementation of our Water Policy, introduced in 2019. It is our policy to:

  • Reduce our water consumption by annual improvements in water use efficiency
  • Return 100% of wastewater from our operations to the environment safely
  • In our businesses which consume significant quantities of water, assess water risks regularly
  • Where necessary, pursue integrated watershed management
  • As much as possible, put back into water stressed areas amounts of water equivalent to the amounts which we use, by reforestation, wetland recovery and better farming techniques
  • Have available transparent water data, with a view to setting, monitoring and regularly reviewing water targets
  • Have appropriate access to safe and potable water, sanitation and hygiene for those on our work sites
  • Protect salt and freshwater ecosystems from over extraction or contamination because of what we do
  • With others, help to provide community access to safe and potable water
  • Give tools to our immediate suppliers to enable them to protect water resources in water stressed areas
  • Engage in water advocacy

Sustainable water resource management

Our businesses must understand local policies and collaborate with others to facilitate water management. We have three guiding principles for water resource management: REDUCE through water efficiency, RECYCLE by reusing wastewater where possible and REPLENISH water through community and watershed projects.


Reduce through water efficiency


Recycle by reusing wastewater where possible


Replenish water through community and watershed projects


In 2019, Swire Coca-Cola’s water use ratio (WUR), which reflects the amount of water needed to produce one litre of beverage, increased to 1.77 from 1.74 in 2018. The WUR varies by market.

More water is used, because of the need for cleaning, if there is switching from the manufacture of one product to another. There is more such switching, and therefore a higher WUR, in Hong Kong and Taiwan than in Mainland China and the USA.

Swire Coca-Cola’s bottling plants minimise water consumption during the manufacturing process by implementing several measures.

  • To more accurately monitor its water consumption, Swire Coca-Cola has installed water sub-meters in most of its bottling plants in Mainland China.
  • Dry lubricants have replaced soapy water to help conveyor belts move cans and bottles along production lines. Ionised air is used for rinsing instead of water when switching a production line from one beverage type to another.
  • Pulses of water instead of continuous sprays rinse equipment when switching production lines from one beverage type to another.
  • Ultraviolet light is used for disinfection.
  • In Taiwan, sensors ensure that water is only used for washing tanks when they are present. This saved approximately 300,000 litres of water in 2019.
  • In Utah, filtration is being replaced by reverse osmosis. This is expected to reduce the WUR by 10%.

HAECO Group companies use automatic taps and water-saving nozzles. HAECO Hong Kong uses rainwater to flush toilets. HAECO Xiamen and HAECO Americas have modified their toilet flushing systems to use less water. Taikoo Engine Services modified its chemical cleaning process to reduce the use of solvents and water. Better control over spraying for aircraft washing has the potential to save 8,400 m3 of water annually.

Swire Properties has guidelines for fresh and flush water to aid its compliance with the Hong Kong government’s Quality Water Supply Scheme for Buildings, so as to encourage employees and tenants to save water. Water flow restrictors have been installed in some of its shopping malls and office buildings. Consumption is monitored using water meters, water flow restrictors, automatic taps and automatic flush water basins and urinals.

At Devon House in Taikoo Place, Swire Properties is testing automated window cleaning. This service aims to reduce water usage and increase efficiency by lowering the time required to clean windows.

At Taikoo Hui in Guangzhou, Swire Properties is projecting to save around 1,900 m3 of water per year by making urinals waterless, installing new low flush toilets and introducing energy efficient hand dryers.

HAECO – Dry aircraft washing

HAECO Hong Kong offers dry instead of wet aircraft washing. Using biodegradable, non-toxic and non-flammable chemicals, the dry wash process removes dirt, including oil and carbon, from the aircraft exterior with minimal water usage. A dry wash uses ten times less water than a wet wash. Over the course of a year, this environmentally friendly cleaning process can amount to a saving of more than 860,000 litres of water.

The chemicals used in a dry wash are also more effective cleaning agents, which means fewer washes per year for the Cathay Pacific fleet. In addition, a shorter tow is required to take aircraft to the bays used for dry washes and therefore less fuel is used. HAECO sees the dry wash as a multiple win for its service offering: reduced carbon footprint and water use, more efficient aircraft rotation and increased revenue for the customer.


We discharge water into nature in a clean and pure condition, that meets or exceeds legal requirements in almost every territory in which we operate. We are committed to wastewater treatment standards which require returning all water used in our manufacturing processes to the environment at a level that supports healthy aquatic life.

To further reduce our demand for freshwater, Swire Coca-Cola uses recycled wastewater. Bottling plants in Mainland China and Hong Kong have their own wastewater treatment systems. Treated wastewater is reused in cooling towers, cleaning, irrigation and toilet flushing. Backwash water from pump seal cooling lines and ozone generator cooling systems is reused in condensing towers.

In 2019, Swire Coca-Cola recycled 883.6 million litres of water, 192 million litres more than in 2017. Wastewater discharged from its bottling plants meets the water quality requirements of The Coca-Cola Company and the World Health Organisation. Performance is monitored and verified to ensure compliance with regulations. Internal wastewater is sampled daily and external wastewater annually. Swire Coca-Cola does not use recycled water in its drinks. In Mainland China, an online monitoring system to track wastewater compliance has been installed.

The bottling plant in Jinqiao, Shanghai, has upgraded their wastewater treatment facility, which has enabled them to reuse treated water. This is expected to save around 60 million litres of water annually.

At the Hangzhou bottling plant, final rinse water has been reused for cleaning since early 2019. In Yunnan, water metering has been installed to monitor and optimise water use.

The principal companies in the HAECO Group have wastewater treatment plants. HAECO Xiamen uses heavy metal monitoring equipment and detectors to check effluents before discharge. HAECO Xiamen uses treated wastewater for irrigation, vehicle cleaning, toilet flushing and apron watering. Taikoo Engine Services (Xiamen) uses treated water for toilet flushing. HAECO Group has 8% of water withdrawn being reused.

Cathay Pacific Catering Services collects condensate water from air handling units for use by chillers. This recovers 730 tonnes of water annually, representing 0.15% of its total water consumption, generates 9,000 kw/yr of electricity, and reduces CO2 by 4.6 tonne/yr.

At Swire Properties’ Brickell City Centre development, an elevated trellis provides shade from the sun, creates air flow and collects rainwater. At INDIGO, wastewater and rainwater are used for toilet flushing and irrigation. Recycling of sewage is planned, with a view to saving 85,000 tonnes of water annually. Recycled rainwater is used for irrigation at One Taikoo Place.

Swire Coca-Cola – Reducing freshwater demand

Swire Coca-Cola – Reducing freshwater demand

Swire Coca-Cola’s water efficiency initiatives in Mainland China are expected to reduce water consumption by more than 160,000 cubic metres. This includes reusing final rinse water and reverse osmosis in cooling towers at plants in Guangdong, Shanghai and Hefei and repairing leaks at the Fuzhou plant.

Shanghai Shenmei Beverage Co., Ltd. sells reclaimed water to neighbouring electronics and machinery manufacturing plants for cooling, irrigation, car washing and toilet flushing. This reduces the buyers’ freshwater costs and generates income for Shanghai Shenmei from reclaimed water sales and reductions in the sewage discharge fee. Approximately 40.1 million litres of reclaimed water were sold in 2019.

Twelve Swire Coca-Cola bottling plants were recognised for their outstanding efforts in water and energy saving at the 2019 China Beverages Industry Association Annual Conference held in Shanghai.


We support programmes that ensure healthy watersheds and sustainable water supplies for the communities in which we operate, with the goal of balancing water used in our finished beverages.

Swire Coca-Cola has collaborated with The Coca-Cola Company on water replenishment projects in Mainland China and the USA. Its goal is to return the same amount of clean water to natural water systems as it uses in its beverages. The projects helped Swire Coca-Cola to fulfill this objective, with the additional benefits of local community engagement, water and soil erosion control, greater support for sustainable agriculture and wetland protection and rehabilitation.

The Coca-Cola System replenished 160% of the water used in all its beverages in 2019. The Coca-Cola Company’s water replenishment data is independently reviewed by LimnoTech and verified by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. Swire Coca-Cola has contributed to this achievement but has not yet itself replenished 100% of the water which it uses.

In Taiwan, Swire Coca-Cola has contributed to two of The Coca-Cola Company’s wetland conservation programmes. Wetlands provide a vital habitat for an abundance of diverse birds and other species. At Guandu Nature Park, water gates are opened twice a month to allow saltwater to enter the wetland. At Kaohsiung Chouchai Wetland, a floating island was constructed and wetland vegetation was improved.

Swire Coca-Cola supports the ecological recovery of Willamette watershed in Oregon, USA, by contributing to the costs of habitat management for the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. This replenishes the Willamette River with 121 million litres of treated water annually.

Since 2004, Cathay Dragon has raised over HK$10 million for conservation projects in Mainland China, including protecting watersheds.

Swire Coca-Cola – supporting water replenishment programmes

Arizona’s Verde River is an important source of freshwater for Phoenix, USA. Its flow is adversely affected by dams and diversions and is insufficient to support native fish and wildlife habitats adequately. Swire Coca-Cola has donated US$10,000 to a water replenishment project that will reduce leakage and water loss from the Eureka Ditch, an eight-mile-long irrigation ditch in the Verde River valley. This replenishment project will install piping on the leakiest section of the ditch to reduce water lost to seepage and evaporation, replenishing 10.9 million litres of water annually.

Looking ahead

We are improving the collection and monitoring of our water consumption data. Data protocols set operational boundaries and preferred calculation methods. We are mapping water stress for our physical assets. This will help us to better align our water disclosures with the revised GRI water standard. Water intensity targets for 2030 are being developed.

Sustainable materials

Why sustainable materials matter