How CCE plans to meet its most ambitious sustainability targets yet

Joe Franses, director of corporate responsibility and sustainability at Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), explains how the bottling firm is planning to spritz up its green efforts over the next five years.

This week, we celebrated an important milestone in the Coca-Cola Enterprises sustainability journey as we published our 10th annual Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CRS) Report.

We’re very proud that this report includes our most ambitious targets to date – for example, we’ve committed to halving the carbon footprint of our business by 2020 and to ensuring that 40 percent of the PET we use is recycled PET and/or PET from renewable materials within the same timeframe. These new targets are the result of a wide consultation with stakeholders, partners and suppliers. We heard that now is the time for new and more challenging social and environmental goals and we want to step up the work we’re doing to cut our environmental impact and further increase our contribution to society.

Over the past decade, we’ve begun to integrate CRS and sustainability into everything we do. We are proud of our achievements but realise that there is still a long way to go – and to achieve our goals, we know we cannot act alone.

Finding solutions to shared problems

Collaboration is absolutely vital. We want to inspire and drive sustainable change with those we work with, as well as through our own organisation. We have moved from focusing on what we do inside our own four walls to exploring how we can be more sustainable across all aspects of our value chain, embedding sustainability into our procurement processes and supplier relationships.  We have explored new and exciting models for collaboration, such as the partnership we ran with the open innovation network OpenIDEO to generate new thinking on at-home recycling. 

Expectations of business are only going to get tougher and we don’t have all the answers ourselves. Only by working together with other businesses and sharing best practices, is it possible to drive change at a macro level and find solutions to shared problems. That’s why we hosted our Future for Sustainability Summit in London last year in partnership with the Financial Times – welcoming 250 delegates from diverse backgrounds to generate a dialogue around the future of business.  We take pride in convening and facilitating collaboration and debate to drive innovation. Ultimately, we are in unchartered territory; society is facing bigger, more serious challenges than ever before and there is an expectation on business to play a central role in addressing them.

The fight against climate change

We believe that the impact of climate change is both dangerous and costly. Yet economic growth and action on climate change can be achieved simultaneously.

Decarbonization and the transition towards a low-carbon economy can be a driver of green growth and deliver significant long-term economic benefits. These include improved energy security, new jobs in the low-carbon sector, reduced air pollution and protection of the biodiversity and ecosystems on which we all rely.

A successful global climate deal in Paris will send a clear signal of the direction of travel to businesses around the world – driving investment and allowing companies to contribute to the transition to a low-carbon economy.

However, it is important to remember that agreement at COP21 will be just one aspect of the action that is required at a global level to tackle climate change. Action will also be required from national, local and regional governments and businesses – acting separately and together.

We know we have a role to play, so we have strengthened our commitments to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with our own business and our value chain. We also continue to support a progressive policy agenda on climate change and carbon reduction and have supported the work of the Prince of Wales’ Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change and the Haga Initiative in Sweden.

Supporting the circular economy

As well as pushing up demand for energy and water, climate change may limit the availability or increase the cost of key raw materials we use to make our products. We know this is a risk for CCE so we’ve worked hard to embed sustainable ways of working into our everyday business operations and we aim to be an early adopter of new sustainable technologies, such as using ionized air instead of water for rinsing bottles. 

To this end, we are committed to supporting the development of the circular economy, under which we consume fewer resources, use recycled materials, and items previously considered waste are turned back into new materials and products. This is why we have heavily invested in recycling partnerships, like the one with APPE at Infineo Recycling, which is now recycling 1.5 billion PET bottles a year – and in our ongoing work to make our packaging lighter and fully recyclable.

Supporting the development of the circular economy, however, means much more to us than just using recycled products. The circular economy only works if all stakeholders, including our consumers, understand why it’s important and how they can play their part. So leadership on our part also means driving consumer behavior around recycling.  For example, our recycling partnership with APPE in France includes a recycling education center, led by a full time teacher, which provides young people with an opportunity to learn about the recycling process and encourages them to recycle waste.

We know that our stakeholders expect us to take the lead and that our reputation depends on us doing so. But leadership brings challenges. We need to demonstrate quantifiable progress. We need to be increasingly innovative in our packaging and processes so as to minimise our use of resources. And we need to be able to collaborate with a range of partners from packaging suppliers to specialists in collection and recycling.

So, yes, our new targets might not be easy to achieve – but that is exactly the point.  We want to give ourselves new challenges and push ourselves to accelerate our efforts so that we can create real value from collaboration and understand what true sustainability leadership will mean in the future. We believe that working with stakeholders to develop innovative new solutions to shared problems will be absolutely critical to our success.

Joe Franses is director of corporate responsibility and sustainability at Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE)

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