This Is Forward: Inside sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners
Following the creation of Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) in 2016, the organisation now has 24,000 employees across 14 countries with a diverse network of 20,000 suppliers.
“Around 300mn people enjoy our drinks in Western Europe every year and this gives us the strength and opportunity to make a positive difference,” believes the group’s Vice-President of Sustainability, Joe Franses.
This Is Forward marks a considered response by the group to its stakeholders who have voiced their need to understand the role Coca-Cola can play in helping to address many of the key societal issues people are most concerned about today by targeting a series of achievable goals by 2025. These include action on: drinks (to reduce sugar content), climate (to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50%), supply chain (to make sure 100% of agricultural ingredients come from sustainable sources), society (to foster a diverse and inclusive culture in the workplace and support local community partnerships), water (to protect the sustainability of sources for future generations) and packaging (to make sure 100% of packaging is reusable or recyclable).
The action plan has been developed following a year of consultation with more than 100 key stakeholders including governments, NGOs, customers and suppliers - as well as 12,000 consumers across six countries and over 1,000 employees.
- Coca-Cola promises to collect and recycle all its packaging by 2030
- Aldi pledges to halve food waste by 2030
- Read the latest FDF World magazine here
“We asked them what they expect of us and the role they expect us to play and the feedback we heard was clear,” explains Franses. “They want us to use our position as an industry leader as a force for good to meet complex global challenges. We are acting on this feedback and taking steps to ensure we have a positive impact wherever we sell our drinks. We are also making ambitious commitments on issues including health and nutrition, packaging and recycling, economic development, water scarcity and climate change.”
Although the vast majority of Coca Cola’s bottles and cans are 100% recyclable, they don’t always end up being recycled, admits Franses. So, how does he plan to achieve an ambitious 100% collection target? “We need to continue to collaborate with many different partners, including packaging recovery organisations, local municipalities and industry bodies in all of our markets. We are determined to do more and lead the way towards a circular economy,” he insists. “One where 100% of our packaging can be collected, reused or recycled, and where none of it ends up as litter or in the oceans.”
A cornerstone of the action plan is to ensure 100% of packaging is recyclable or reusable by 2025. “The vast majority of our cans and bottles are already 100% recyclable. We are going one step further and, by 2025, we’ll also ensure all our primary packaging materials, including the cartons and pouches we use for some of our drinks, will also be fully recyclable and compatible with local packaging recovery infrastructure,” affirms Franses. “This is aligned with The Coca-Cola Company’s global pledge to use 100% reusable or recyclable packaging made in October 2017 as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative.”
CCEP will also continue to work with its suppliers and invest in the recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) value chain, including PET collection and reprocessing infrastructure, to meet the allied goal of using at least 50% recycled PET in its bottles by 2025. “We’ll continue to innovate by looking at all aspects of packaging from the design of our packs, to the use of both recycled and renewable packaging materials,” says Franses.
Innovation lies at the heart of CCEP’s plan to meet its goals. After leading the way with the introduction of recycled PET into packaging and bringing PlantBottle (the first fully recyclable PET plastic beverage bottle made partially from plants) to market with over 40bn bottles in use worldwide, it aims to go further to find new ways to reduce the need for packaging and minimise waste.
“In the UK, we have recently partnered with the University of Reading to reduce packaging on their campus,” reveals Franses. “Students and staff can purchase bespoke refillable bottles which can be used to access refills from ‘freestyle machines’ that have been installed across the campus. Each bottle contains RFID (radio frequency identification) technology that enables us to track how many times the bottle is used. Seven machines have been installed and over 1,500 refillable bottles were in use within the first week of the programme. We are monitoring the impact of the scheme and will be using these insights to help shape our future plans.”
Beyond recyclable PET, the latest significant packaging advancement is the lightweight redesigned bottle for the Abbey Well spring water brand. “The ‘twistable’ design uses up to 32% less plastic and carries a prominent ‘Recycle Me’ message to remind consumers the bottle is fully recyclable,” says Franses. “Its design also makes it easy for consumers to crumple down before disposal.”
As CCEP aims to make further inroads towards a circular economy, Franses views it as an opportunity rather than a challenge. “It’s a different way of thinking and it’s about educating consumers to understand the role they can play, alongside the action taken by businesses,” he says, citing CCEP’s responsibility to inspire everyone to recycle, with an important part of this process educating consumers to understand what happens to their bottles and cans when they go into a recycling bin. “We already support consumer recycling and anti-litter campaigns across our markets,” he adds. “We will continue to use our brands to inform and encourage consumers to recycle. Our recent ‘A Bottle Love Story’ advertisement in the UK is a great example of this.”
CCEP is continuously trying to engage the market to become actively involved in the big issues facing our society – and that includes packaging. “We have heard from consumers as to what they expect us to communicate about; with a third saying brands like Coca-Cola should help to inspire and encourage people to recycle,” says Franses. “This campaign is the first in a series of activities which aim to influence consumer behaviour around recycling.” The reaction to This Is Forward has been positive, with many stakeholders expressing their support for the commitments CCEP have set out. “We’ll continue to listen and talk to our stakeholders as we work towards our ambitions, using our business and our brands to build a better future,” confirms Franses.
Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030
Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission.
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.
The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.
The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture.
It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.
The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020.
Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.
The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.
While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.
Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.
Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse.
"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.
“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets.
Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.
Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."
McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:
- Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
- Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
- Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
- Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
- The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere