From the bright lights of Kings Cross to the joy of riding a bike, Coca-Cola’s mission in 2016 was to share a whole lot of love with the Australian community.

We also had a strong desire to tackle universal problems of poverty, equality and environmental damage, so here’s a snapshot of some of our most impactful programs over the course of 2016.

1. Delivered 10,000 free bikes with The Happiness Cycle

For many of us, riding a bike is a natural part of life and an important aspect of Australian culture, whether it involves travelling to work or cruising with schoolmates.

Joining forces with Bicycle Network in 2014, the Happiness Cycle program saw 10,000 bikes donated, with the milestone achieved at an event in Western Sydney in 2016.

 “The gifting of the 10,000th bike was such an exciting triumph,” said Roberto Mercade, president at Coca-Cola South Pacific. “Knowing we have provided thousands of teens with the ability and independence to get to school and work, and be more involved in their community, is truly a wonderful feeling".

2. Launched the 5by20 program via online mentoring

They say ‘women hold up half the sky’, but there are still clear areas of gender inequality in Australia. There’s a 19.3 per cent gap in Year 12 attainment for young women, and Coca-Cola has set out to address that disparity.

Partnering with Beacon Foundation, the 5by20 program has launched an online mentoring program that supports school-leavers to become ready for work. Members of Coca-Cola South Pacific have taken on mentoring duties and are proud to be part of the initiative. 

The 5by20 program is part of a wider initiative by The Coca-Cola Company globally, who in 2010 The Coca-Cola Company set out to empower five million women worldwide by 2020

3. Promoted happiness and positivity with the Coca-Cola Australia Foundation

Youth optimism, empowerment, possibilities for a positive life, and all areas of wellbeing – these are the focus areas for the Coca-Cola Australia Foundation. 

To inspire moments of happiness and possibility amongst young Australians in 2016, Coca-Cola Australia Foundation announced applications for two kinds of grants: flagship grants for major partners across three years, and smaller, one-off employee connected grants.  

"Our employee connected grants are a great way for Coca-Cola to connect with charities that have a personal connection with our employees,” explained Malcolm Hudson, chair of Coca-Cola Australia Foundation. “We aspire to create meaningful partnerships throughout Australia that will help build stronger communities.”

4. Made a little piece of history with the Kings Cross Billboard 

After 42 years, it was time for a change to one of Sydney’s most famous skyline signatures. Revamping the iconic Coca-Cola Kings Cross billboard meant introducing more than two kilometres of sustainable and energy saving rope LED lights, and provided a chance to recycle the historic red and white script. 

Coca-Cola conducted an online auction for Wayside Chapel – a charity that has played an enormous part in the community the billboard remains an emblem for.

Auctioned off to the public, the original letters raised over $100,000 for Wayside Chapel’s community service centres, which help thousands of people access essential health support and social services each year.

“The Coca-Cola sign has been an iconic part of the Kings Cross skyline for more than 40 years,” said Roberto.  “It’s one of Sydney’s most internationally recognisable landmarks and we knew we had to find a way to keep a part of the old sign alive. What better way than to help a great local charity like Wayside Chapel in the process?” 

5. Protected the Great Barrier Reef with Project Catalyst

As the main ingredient in most of its beverage products, Coca-Cola uses around 305 billion litres of water every year. In deciding how best to be environmentally sustainable, the company set a goal to replenish the equivalent amount of water back to nature and communities by 2020. In Australia, the result is Project Catalyst.

Created to reduce the environmental impacts of sugarcane production on the Great Barrier Reef, Project Catalyst provides funding for technical expertise, economic analysis, and opportunities for learning and networking to farmers in Queensland.

With initatives like Project Catalyst in operation across the world, 2016 was the year that saw Coca-Cola become the first Fortune 500 company to balance their books in the area of water replenishment

“A goal that started as an aspiration in 2007 is today a reality and, from a local perspective, we are thrilled that Australia can contribute so significantly,” said Roberto. “Achieving this global milestone is a moment of pride for Coca-Cola and our partners.”

Project Catalyst

In 2016, Coca-Cola became the first Fortune 500 Company to balance their books in the area of water replenishment. 

More to do in 2017

“Our commitment to the communities in which we live and work is real and ongoing,” said Sarah Prestwood, senior external affairs manager at Coca-Cola South Pacific. “We’re committed to projects big and small, all the way across Australia, and we’re very excited to bring you more of their stories in 2017.” 

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