Ian Barnett, environment manager at Coca-Cola Enterprises’ Sidcup facility in Kent addressed delegates at the recent PPMA show in Birmingham on how the company embeds sustainability into its business.
CCE employs 4,000 staff in Great Britain, and produces and markets 25 brands owned by Coca-Cola Company as well as brands The Coca-Cola Company does not own, such as Capri Sun and Powerade.
Barnett described sustainability as “the mansion that holds up our operating framework” and said the company worked with key suppliers – including Krones and Smurfit Kappa – to embed sustainability into its supply chain.
What CCE requires of its suppliers...The new 'fifth element'
“Quality, cost and value, service and innovation. We now have a fifth element – sustainability. This is what we require of our suppliers?” he asked.
“We require our suppliers to come to us to help deliver carbon reductions across our value chain. Critical suppliers are assessed across 20 sustainability criteria, and then they are segmented based upon carbon impact.”
“Then their performance is assessed via annual sustainability supplier of the year awards.”
'Leading the industry' on sustainable packaging
Turning to packaging more specifically, Barnett said CCE wanted to lead the industry with its suppliers to reduce its impact on the environment.
“We will use more reusable and renewable resources in our packaging – we will obviously reduce the amount that we use, and ensure that our packaging is as sustainable as possible and fully recyclable,” Barnett said.
“We’ll also send zero waste to landfill from our business operations by the end of 2014. We are currently 99.5% of the way there,” he added.
For CCE improved packaging sustainability involves ‘educating and inspiring’ consumers, championing improvements to existing collection schemes and investing in strategic recycling infrastructure partnerships.
“Then we have to look at recycling itself. So we have to look at reducing the amount of packaging that we use initially. We have to look at using reusable and renewable materials, and making sure that it is 100% recyclable,” he said.
Programs to put PET back in bottles
“At the same time we need to look at collection, the behavior of the consumer in terms of disposing of waste. We need to look at national programs, local programs, what we’re doing to help recover the amount of waste that we need to use PET for example, back in our bottles,” he added.
“The brand Coca-Cola Life may be new, but this bottle is also our latest innovation. In 1994 this weighed 36g, today it weighs 19.9g – so less PET weight in the bottle, the cap, but it’s more than that. Is it sustainable?
“What’s changed? Well, up to 22.5% is made from plants, up to 25% is made from recycled plastic. And ultimately, it is 100% recyclable,” Barnett said.
“Last year approximately 5bn PET bottles went to landfill. Amazing isn’t it? You probably think that we’ve got great collection schemes in place and that people probably do what they say they do,” he said.
'People say they do great things, but don't always do them'
“But actually we think people say they do great things, but don’t always do them. So we’ve set a program in place with the University of Exeter and we’re looking at the behavior of consumers – to understand why they say they do something, but don’t necessarily do it,” Barnett added.
“That’s very important for us. We need to get out there, educate people…it’s about education and influencing. But also we need to look at local and national recycling schemes,” he said.
“It’s absolutely essential that these programs are in place and that they allow us to recover the amount of PET that we need to put back in our bottles,” Barnett added.
One measure CCE has taken is investing £15m with plastics recycler ECO Plastics via a JV, to ‘close the loop’ and recycle old PET bottles into new bottles; Barnett said a new facility in Lincolnshire, UK is “transforming PET recycling in this country”.
“This is going to help us meet our targets,” he said, noting by way of example that all plastic bottles collected and recycled at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were back on the shelves as new bottles inside six weeks.