The rural village of Mehdiganj has had enough.
Located near the Indian city of Varanasi, the community depends on a local supply of groundwater to meet its cooking, drinking, washing, and farming needs.
But it’s running desperately short.
Now, it’s no secret that many parts of India are short of water anyway… but since Coca-Cola (KO) moved into town in 1999, the problem has become much worse.
The company built a big bottling plant in the area – just one of 58 it has in India, as the firm taps into the country’s growing middle class. Since that time, the groundwater level has dropped by 26 feet.
But given India’s overpopulation and scarce resources, there’s a glaring gap between India’s affluent middle class and villagers. The latter make up half of the population and still rely on wells for water supplies.
Mehdiganj is no different. And with clean water being a huge issue, for years, the village complained that the factory was depleting available water supplies, and polluting groundwater and soil with its waste.
The authorities agreed…
Coked Out: India Shuts Down Coca-Cola’s Water-Hogging Plant
J.S. Yadav from the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board commented, “The plant is closed, following our orders. They’ve also been asked to take suitable measures to recharge the depleting groundwater level by twice the amount they have extracted. Also, the effluents released by the plant contain pollutants beyond the permissible limits.”
In other words, Coke was essentially depriving thousands of local citizens from getting clean water.
So closing down the bottling plant seemed like the most logical move.
It’s a win for the village… but what if there were an “easy button” that could right the wrong?
You’ve heard of Jesus turning water into wine… but how about turning soda into water?
Sounds wacky… but it’s happening.
The Reverse Button: From Coke to Water
It’s backwards logic, really…
Water – the critical lifeblood of humanity – is getting scarcer. But when you think of what it takes to make Coke, it’s a blend of tooth-decaying, fattening sugars, sweet, thick syrup… and water!
However, while Coke is plentiful, water is not.
Turn Coke into water, of course!
Now, look… turning Coke into water isn’t going to solve the world’s water shortage problems. Heck, the idea may even sound a bit weird. But Dutch scientists have done it anyway.
We’re familiar with using water to make Coke… but to do the opposite? It’s a novel concept, to say the least.
As Helmut Smits and University of Amsterdam Masters student, Martien Wubdemann, have proved, though, that concept is no longer just theory.
They’ve cooked up a machine that transforms unhealthy, sugary Coke back into pure drinking water.
It’s basically a distillation process. After boiling the Coke, the water vapor produced is then collected in a separate glass.
They’ve dubbed the creation, “The Real Thing.”
Despite the machine’s clever innovation, however, Smits doesn’t intend to apply the process on a macro scale, or use it to drive Coca-Cola out of business! “I’m not planning on turning all the Coke in the world back into water,” he says. “It’s more to let people think about how we humans create the world around us and ask questions.”
He’s got a point.
Smits says he viewed the project by looking at the world through the eyes of a child – and that sometimes, we must be removed from an environment or situation to see it for what it really is.
Indeed, when you think about it, Coke is nothing more than colored, unhealthy, carbonated water. And Smits is using his green technology invention to demonstrate that our clean water shortage issues are partly self-imposed.
We’ve taken our most critical resource and turned it into an unhealthy substance… only to ironically lack what we started with: clean water.
Where innovation meets investing,