Associate feature: In times of uncertainty, it’s vital we don’t lose sight of our sustainability goals
The challenges of the past few months have required us all to change the ways in which we live and work. At Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) we took immediate action to respond to the crisis, to continue to supply our customers and, crucially, keep our staff safe, including at our site in East Kilbride, where we employ 170 people and just last year invested £23 million in state-of-the-art technology and upskilling our workforce. The impact of the pandemic has been significant, but we took the necessary decisions to protect the livelihoods of our people without utilising the furlough scheme or any other taxpayer funded support.
Despite the immediate challenges, we’re also committed to working with governments and stakeholders across the UK to build a green recovery and haven’t lost sight of our long-term sustainability goals. With the support and commitment of our colleagues we’ve continued to make real progress and have recently announced a significant milestone, as all plastic bottles across our core brands made in Great Britain are now made with 50 per cent recycled plastic (rPET).
All of Coca-Cola’s bottles have been 100 per cent recyclable for many years but this achievement means that Coca-Cola has doubled its rPET usage, and marks another major step in achieving our ambition to help create more sustainable packaging options where all plastic used in bottles comes from recycled or renewable sources. The move forms part of Coca-Cola’s long-term investment in the UK’s circular economy: from helping to establish the UK’s biggest bottle-to-bottle plastic reprocessing facility in 2012, to our recent investment in CuRe Technology – a recycling start-up which seeks to provide a new lease of life for difficult to recycle plastic polyester waste.
We remain vehemently committed to driving the sustainability agenda, particularly when it comes to the issue of manufacturing and recycling our packaging. As a leading FMCG business, we believe it’s our responsibility to go further and ultimately, we want all our bottles to be made from 100 per cent rPET – something that we’ve already achieved across our Glaceau smartwater range.
However, one of the key challenges the industry currently faces – and one many manufacturers are familiar with – is that there simply isn’t enough food-grade recycled plastic locally available in the UK to switch to 100 per cent rPET at this stage. We’re determined to follow in the footsteps of our colleagues in Norway and the Netherlands, who recently made the switch to 100 per cent recycled plastic across most of our portfolio.
One thing both these markets have in common is well-established deposit return schemes (DRS). We’ve long supported the introduction of a well-designed DRS here in Scotland and across the UK, as we believe this is an important part of a truly circular economy, reducing litter, collecting more packaging for recycling, and helping to achieve our ambition of a world without waste.
We continue to work closely with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders to implement an effective DRS by the summer of 2022. While Covid-19 has halted or delayed developments around issues like recycling infrastructure, it has also brought these issues to the fore. Progress may have been slower than we would have liked in some areas, and we recognise there is much more to do, but at CCEP we’re committed to playing our part in the nation’s sustainable future.
Jim Fox is Head of Public Affairs at Coca-Cola European Partners
This piece was sponsored by Coca-Cola European Partners
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