Jon Radtke’s worked a corporate job at Coca-Cola for the past twelve years, but don’t expect to see him in a suit and tie every day.
Instead, you’re likely to catch him sporting well-worn hiking boots, with his sleeves rolled high as he treks across America’s watersheds.
As far back as Radtke can remember, nature has been a central part of his life. He recalls his childhood playground as the woods behind his house in southern Illinois, where he would catch tadpoles in the nearby creek and build tree forts. As he grew older, he would backpack for weeks at a time with his brother in the backcountry, living on what they could carry on their backs and catch in surrounding streams.
“It refreshes me,” Radtke says of his time spent in nature.
“It is,” he believes, “the best job in the world.”
For Radtke, the value of preserving earths’ resources is not only aesthetic, but functional.
Radtke’s mission? Making sure that Coca-Cola embraces those resources responsibly.
He does this in two primary ways: by ensuring that the source water Coca-Cola uses is sustainable and by replenishing at-risk water resources in partnership with organizations, such as the United States Forest Service, the National Forest Foundation and World Wildlife Fund among others, already poised to tackle these issues
A Community Conscious Role
Replenishing local watersheds has no panacea. In some communities, it means removing water-thirsty non-native invasive species, which have sucked dry the land. In others, it means building structures to prevent further erosion of streams or to increase natural groundwater storage.
This locally conscious approach, contributes to a much more extensive environmental impact.
Through their local efforts in North America, Radtke’s team has supported the company’s global goal to replenish water back to nature and communities in an amount equal to that used in its finished beverages.
Not only has the company replenished an estimated 133% of this water, but it surpassed its intended water neutrality milestone five years earlier than expected, meaning more available water for communities to use.
Furthermore, Radtke believes these sustainability efforts make business sense.
“Water and Coca-Cola – they go together,” he continues. “Water is the number one ingredient in almost everything that we make. It's also a life-sustaining resource for the communities in which we operate. We believe that our company and, for that matter, all companies have a role to play to help make sure those water supplies are sustainable.”
Looking back at his time with Coca-Cola, Radtke feels proud of his role in elevating the importance of water sustainability within the company to the extent that it has become a core part of its business model. Looking forward, Radtke knows that this work has only begun.