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by Jim Fox, Coca-Cola
12 April 2024
Associate Feature: Paving the way to a more sustainable future

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Associate Feature: Paving the way to a more sustainable future

Spring is finally here, and with that comes the opportunity to take stock and refocus our efforts. 

While inflation is easing, the landscape remains challenging, and our business and others in our industry remain committed to meeting the needs of our customers and our communities – and to doing so sustainably. 

A number of businesses continue to roll-out innovations – be it in their supply chains, in retail environments or in hospitality, to help consumers make more sustainable purchasing decisions. 
For us at CCEP, we know that packaging is a major contributor to our overall carbon footprint, and we remain resolutely focussed on removing unnecessary packaging and ensuring that what we do use is recovered and recycled where possible.  

Our innovative attached cap design which we launched in 2022 continues to roll out across our production sites in GB. We have accelerated the use of recycled plastic (rPET) in our plastic bottles, and have replaced plastic shrink wrap with sustainable cardboard outers on multi-packs to reduce the packaging we use. We have also carried out work into dispensed solutions in workplaces and on-the-go outlets to eliminate the need for cans and PET bottles. 

We continue to make progress in these areas, but we need to continue to make changes to break the back of the packaging problem. 

Challenges with implementing an interoperable deposit return scheme (DRS) have demonstrated how difficult and complex it is to unlock scalable solutions that can really shift the dial. We have long called for an interoperable DRS, and we are asking for ministers to make good on their promise of bringing in an initiative to encourage more people in Britain to recycle drinks containers. We have seen successful launches in other territories, but we still have a lack of clarity here in Great Britain. 

Delays to DRS are resulting in many people’s patience being stretched. We understand that frustration, but working together towards an interoperable scheme is essential if we are to deliver on the key environmental benefits, and keep businesses effective and efficient.

In addition to legislation, also crucial is ensuring we have the right people and skills in place to bring innovations like these to life – and ensure they are successful. One way we are investing in our people to ensure our sites and offices can deliver for the future is through our apprenticeship programmes. 

Our East Kilbride site, which is home to a 230-strong workforce, has been offering apprenticeships – and benefitting from their skills – for over 20 years now. All of our Scottish apprentices have gone on to secure a full-time role with us, with an ever-broader range of roles available today. The success of our apprenticeship programme here makes East Kilbride an excellent example of what can be achieved by investing in new talent. I’ve personally enjoyed hearing about the stories and successes of our budding engineers and technicians; continued investment in skills is what will guarantee the success stories of the future.

With innovation tailwinds and the right skills behind us, I’m optimistic we can continue to build momentum. The progress made by businesses so far gives us plenty of reasons to be hopeful about what more can be achieved. But what we need now is to work in partnership with Government to help our industry realise the solutions we are determined to unlock, to pave the way towards a more sustainable future. 

This article is sponsored by Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP)

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