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COP26: Tackling Climate Change Together

COP26: Tackling Climate Change Together

Stephen Moorhouse, Vice President and General Manager | Coca-Cola Europacific Partners

4 min read Partner content

COP26 has highlighted the widespread zeal and determination to tackle climate change. Now, we must find meaningful ways to work together to make a lasting impact.

Last week I visited Glasgow for COP26, and joined a number of roundtables and discussions. These included a British Chambers of Commerce event on Collaboration for Net Zero and another with Net Zero Now talking about the climate impact in the hospitality sector. Three core themes stood out - leadership, commitment and collaboration. We were all in agreement that to have the biggest impact, we need to be pulling in the same direction to drive change and tackle the climate challenge, and it’s critical that our industry takes meaningful action together with the UK Government.

Our sustainability journey

Being at COP26 also provided an opportunity to reflect on our own climate commitments. As the largest soft drinks bottler in Europe, we recognise the responsibility we have to make a positive difference.

Over the last decade, we’ve reduced greenhouse gas emissions across our entire value chain by 30.5%. We now want to become a Net Zero business by 2040, and we recently laid out a roadmap to reach this goal.

Locally we’ve taken a number of steps during the past year to help us towards this. We are expanding the solar farm which directly powers our Wakefield soft drinks factory – the largest in Europe – saving almost 1,800 tonnes of CO2 every year.

Just last week, we announced a further £11m investment over the next five years to replace our 200-strong fleet of material handling equipment (MHE), including forklifts, with units powered by lithium ion batteries, producing no carbon emissions in their day-to-day operation. We were pleased to welcome Andrea Jenkyns, MP for Morley & Outwood, to our Wakefield site to show her our latest investment and our ongoing efforts to improve the sustainability of our sites.

We’re also doing more to ensure our packaging is as sustainable as possible, switching to 100% recycled plastic in all 500ml bottles across our entire range earlier this year. It’s another step on our journey towards 100% recycled or renewable plastic in all our bottles, and the creation of a circular economy for our PET packaging.

While we are proud of the progress we have already made, we know we must continue to do more, and that commitment remains at the heart of everything we do

Just ten miles down the road from the Scottish Event Campus, our East Kilbride production site is an excellent example of our sustainability plan in action. It has been using 100% renewable energy for more than 10 years and has seen a 47% reduction in its carbon footprint since 2010. It has played a vital role in helping us to transition from plastic to paper straws across our Capri-Sun range earlier this year, and we also now produce 500ml bottles made from 100% recycled plastic at the site.

While we are proud of the progress we have already made, we know we must continue to do more, and that commitment remains at the heart of everything we do.

Working together

That’s why we have asked our strategic supply chain partners to set their own science-based targets by 2023. We are leading the way with industry initiatives like Net Zero Pubs, Bars & Restaurants protocols launched in partnership with Pernod Ricard and Net Zero Now. And we are working with key stakeholders to help bring about a drinks industry deposit return scheme (DRS) for all bottles and cans that works for everyone here in Scotland, and ultimately across GB, as soon as is practical.

While in Glasgow I also took the opportunity to speak to a number of customers first-hand to see how they are bringing their sustainability strategies to life. This included Costa where I also trialled their Eco Vend reverse vending machine. I also stopped by Mharsanta, one of the restaurants that has signed up to the Net Zero Now Restaurants initiative. They are leading by example, working with local Scottish producers and suppliers, and moving towards a more sustainable packaging for their takeaway offer.

It will be interesting to see how the second week of COP unfolds. We’ve seen landmark commitments on key issues such as deforestation, and there is a sense that the world is more determined than ever to create a better planet, now and for future generations - but whatever happens one thing is clear - we need to move further and faster collectively to make the difference.

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