Associate feature: Taking action for a sustainable future

Written by Nick Brown on 4 June 2018 in Comment

Nick Brown, Head of Sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners GB, on how to increase use of sustainable packaging

Image credit: Coca-Cola

The world does not have a packaging problem. Packaging, and indeed plastic, plays an integral role in our lives, from food to medical equipment. The problem lies in misuse and malpractice in disposal. If we are truly to address the impact of packaging on the environment, this is an important distinction to make.

At Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) we’ve led the industry in sustainable packaging for many years, from our first partnership with Keep Britain Tidy back in 1965 to our first use of recycled plastic in 1991. In 2012 we opened a recycling Joint Venture which has to date recycled over two billion bottles for reuse. And we’ve now set a bold ambition to recover all our packaging so more can be recycled and none ends up as litter, working closely with others and taking our own voluntary actions.

We’re doubling the amount of recycled plastic in our bottles to 50 per cent, using the strength and reach of our brands to encourage consumers to recycle more, and helping to clean up environments – e.g. Keep Scotland Beautiful’s roadside litter campaign which we’ve funded for the last three years.

But we know there is more to do. We welcome Scottish Government’s plans for a beverage packaging Deposit Return Scheme (DRS). Evidence shows that countries with well-designed schemes can achieve higher recycling rates and discourage litter. We’ve been talking to multiple stakeholders - international colleagues, large and small retailers, other beverage companies, brewers, Local Authorities and the public - to assess how such a scheme could work in Scotland, identifying the following core principles for maximum effectives and longevity:

•             One single scheme, as easy as possible for the public to use

•             Set up as not for profit, funded by a fee levied against producers and retailers, unredeemed deposits and the value of collected materials

•             Run by industry to ensure all parties collaborate towards best environmental outcomes and minimized costs for Scottish shoppers

•             Good governance and fraud control to safeguard against abuse

•             Aligned to national infrastructure that supports both on-the-go and at-home recycling

It’s encouraging that Zero Waste Scotland heard these messages during its recent engagement workshops. There now needs to be a period of detailed design on the right solution for Scotland and progressive companies look forward to engaging more fully on the best way to improve packaging recycling and reduce littering in Scotland.

Nick Brown is head of sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners GB. This piece was sponsored by Coca-Cola GB.

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