Associate feature: Moving towards a cleaner, greener future together
Last year undoubtedly presented challenges for us all, having to navigate the effects of the pandemic and the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
Businesses, families and individuals across the UK have all shown incredible resilience and optimism in the face of adversity, and despite everything, there remains an admirable sense of spirit and determination among us all to get through this difficult period.
Like most businesses, Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) managed our way through the pandemic and the EU withdrawal as best we could.
We prioritised the safety of our staff, and recognised the additional support they needed to provide to their own families, taking the necessary decisions to protect the livelihoods of our people without utilising the furlough scheme or any other taxpayer funded support.
Our customers were all having different experiences of the pandemic restrictions. Some were busier than usual, while others had to completely close down.
Our factories had to respond quickly to ensure we provided the best service we could to those shops who remained open and our business had to find ways to support those in hospitality who had to shut their doors.
Our people have played a vital role in helping us through this period. We’ve continued to invest in our East Kilbride site, where we employ 170 people, and just last year committed £23 million to state-of-the-art technology and upskilling our workforce as we prepare ourselves for the future.
Despite all of the challenges, we’re 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 COP26 taking place in Glasgow later this year, reducing carbon emissions will be one of the key priorities for the UK in 2021, and as a leading brand and manufacturer here in the UK we know we have an important role to play in this.
In December 2020 we announced our commitment to becoming a net zero business by 2040.
This ambitious target is aligned with the Scottish Government’s own targets and puts us ahead of the commitments outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement, ensuring that we will be leading the way in moving towards a cleaner, greener future.
Our Road to Zero plan outlines a pathway towards this goal, setting out key milestones to move forward with purpose.
The first major milestone will be to reduce our absolute greenhouse gas emissions across our entire value chain by 30 per cent by 2030 (vs 2019).
We’ve also continued to make real progress towards tackling plastic waste and last year announced all plastic bottles across our core brands made in Great Britain are now made with 50 per cent recycled plastic (rPET).
As a leading FMCG business, we believe it’s our responsibility to go further and ultimately, we want to follow in the footsteps of our colleagues in Norway and the Netherlands and switch all our bottles to 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.
Norway and the Netherlands both benefit from well-established deposit return schemes (DRS), something we have long supported the introduction of in Scotland and across the UK.
This year will see discussions around the implementation of the Scottish DRS scheme intensify. The extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic are hampering progress but we are working well with government and stakeholders towards a well-designed scheme that benefits everyone and supports our goal of ensuring that all our packaging is recovered so that none of it ends up as litter.
The rollout of vaccinations across the UK now gives us cause for hope that we will soon return to normality; however, in returning to normal we also have a unique opportunity to embrace change and do things differently, especially when
it comes to the future of our planet. At Coca-Cola European Partners we are committed to playing our part in the country’s green recovery.
Jim Fox is head of public affairs at Coca-Cola European Partners. This article was sponsored by Coca-Cola European Partners.