The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, released its eighth system-wide sustainability report that ranks the company at a self-declared B-plus level, according to the disclosure and reporting requirements of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The report’s highlights include the expanded availability of the company’s PlantBottle technology, improved water-use efficiency, carbon footprint reduction progress and philanthropic activities.

The 2010-2011 sustainability report provided an in-depth review about the sustainability efforts of The Coca-Cola Co. and its nearly 300 bottling partners. The four main areas of focus include the following: water stewardship; energy efficiency and climate protection; sustainable packaging; and healthy communities.

In 2010, the company distributed 2.5 billion PlantBottle packages, which are made from as much as 30 percent plant-derived material, in 10 major markets. This availability is estimated to have saved more than 60,000 barrels of oil and sequestered the equivalent of nearly 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from its PET plastic bottles. By the end of 2011, PlantBottle packaging was available in 20 markets and nearly 10 billion PlantBottle packages had been shipped, the company said.

The report also found that in 2010, The Coca-Cola Co. improved its water-use efficiency for the eighth consecutive year, which reduces the average amount of water required to produce each beverage serving. At the end of 2010, the company achieved 93 percent alignment, and by the end of 2011, it estimated 96 percent alignment in its own water-use efficiency standards, according to the company.

Also in 2010, The Coca-Cola Co. system increased production volume and reduced global carbon emissions by 2 percent, which is closer to the company’s goal of growing its business, but not its carbon footprint. In addition, by the end of 2011, the company had installed 500,000 hydrofluorocarbon-free coolers.

The company also exceeded its goal to give back at least 1 percent of its operating income to communities worldwide through The Coca-Cola Co. and The Coca-Cola Foundation in 2010 by donating $102 million. The company also gained traction with its “5 by 20” initiative to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs by 2020. It also continued its commitments to promoting agricultural practices that are better for both farmers and the environment with projects such as Haiti Hope and Project Nurture.

The Coca-Cola Co. continues its commitment to wellness reporting that since 2000, its average calories in each serving decreased by 9 percent globally. The company said its portfolio includes more than 800 low- and no-calorie beverages, which represents nearly 25 percent of its global portfolio. It also remains committed to include calorie information on the front of nearly all of its packages by the end of 2011 and have a physical activity program in 100 countries, which is part of the company’s initiative to have a program in every country in which The Coca-Cola Co. operates by 2015.

The report, titled “Reasons to Believe,” is available online and in a format accessible by smartphones, tablets and other popular mobile devices, the company said. The company reported against the GRI’s key performance indicators in the areas of economic, environmental and social performance, which resulted in a self-declared B grade following the GRI G3.1 guidelines. This year’s report also received verification by a third party agency that resulted in an overall B-plus grade.

In addition to the release of its sustainability report, The Coca-Cola Co. and Keep America Beautiful (KAB) announced a call for entries for its newly expanded 2012 Coca-Cola Recycling Bin Grant Program, which is designed to expand and support recycling in communities across America. For 2012, the company has significantly expanded its investment in the Bin Grant Program, which is funded through grants from The Coca-Cola Foundation, to include both specific college and university-focused grants and the traditional public space recycling bin grant. Bins can be applied for online at through March 2.