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Wed, 15 July 2020

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A more sustainable future is achievable and on the horizon

A more sustainable future is achievable and on the horizon

Nick Brown, Head of Sustainability | Coca-Cola European Partners

3 min read Member content

Last year, Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) unveiled its Sustainable Packaging Strategy – a long-term commitment to sustainability centring around real action.

At CCEP, we want to retrieve all our packaging so that more can be recycled and nothing ends up as waste. This is a bold ambition – but something we can achieve by taking action in three areas.

Firstly, we must make our packaging as sustainable as possible. Our cans and bottles are already 100% recyclable, and we are seeking ways to lightweight them further and double the amount of recycled plastics in our bottles to 50% by 2020.

Secondly, we know we play an important role in encouraging customers to recycle bottles after use, and so we will continue to work in this area throughout 2018 and beyond.

Thirdly, we continue to support the circular economy by calling for reforms to the current recycling systems in Britain. We believe this should extend to any action that boosts recycling and reduces litter, including Deposit Return Systems (DRS). 

It is not an easy task and we cannot do it alone. This is why we have pledged to multiple initiatives that bring key stakeholders together to drive change. One example is WRAP’s UK Plastics Pact – a collaborative initiative bringing businesses together from across the plastics value chain, alongside the UK government and NGOs. 

CCEP is a founding member of the Pact, whose 42 members are responsible for over 80% of the plastic packaging on products sold through UK supermarkets, meaning it can affect real change through its membership alone.

The UK Plastics Pact is the first of its kind in the world. It foregrounds how the plastics issue can only be tackled collaboratively, and only once other countries follow suit will we witness the globally engaged plastics industry the world requires today. 

As part of our sustainable packaging strategy, we want to see more of our bottles and cans being recycled, and we are open to exploring any well-designed initiatives that could help achieve this. Key industry players have been coming together on the subject of Deposit Return Schemes (DRS), and CCEP has been central to discussions on this as well as joining working groups with industry and government, including DEFRA, on key packaging policy including a re-design of the current Producer Responsibility System. 

We know that DRS would represent a fundamentally different collection approach, with packaging returned to where it was purchased. It will significantly impact householders, retailers and Local Authorities, who currently provide the household waste and recycling collection services. There are some key commonalities amongst many well-designed DRS around the world but in Great Britain, there is a central choice as to whether we should build a scheme to complement, or replace, the existing household collection schemes for rigid beverage packaging. 

It’s important for all interested parties to put forward their vision of the optimal scheme, as a well-designed scheme will have a wide-reaching impact, after all. We recently set out our vision for a well-designed Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in GB, with eleven clearly defined principles based on detailed discussion with suppliers and customers, industry and recyclers.
We look forward to working with others to develop a system that significantly improves recycling rates in a way that works for everyone.
We may only be one year into our Sustainable Packaging Strategy, but the progress we have made and the reception we have received suggests that a more sustainable future is achievable – and on the horizon. 

Read the most recent article written by Nick Brown, Head of Sustainability - Championing on-the-go recycling: Coca-Cola’s continued partnership with Merlin Entertainments

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