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Tue, 27 October 2020

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How are Coca-Cola European Partners contributing to the UK’s sustainable future?

How are Coca-Cola European Partners contributing to the UK’s sustainable future?

Credit: CCEP

Julian Hunt, Vice President, Public Affairs and Communications (GB) | Coca-Cola European Partners

4 min read Partner content

At CCEP, we’re more passionate than ever about the role we can play in the vision for a fully circular economy.

Earlier this week, we announced a significant milestone for Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) in Great Britain, as all plastic bottles across our core brands made in GB are now made with 50 per cent recycled plastic (rPET).

During what remains an undoubtedly challenging time for many businesses we haven’t lost focus on our longer-term sustainability goals and I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to reach the 50% rPET milestone.

The move means Coca-Cola in Great Britain is now using over 21,000 tonnes of recycled plastic per year which marks a major step forward in achieving our ambition to ensure that all plastic used in our bottles comes from recycled or renewable sources.

We know more needs to be done

We’re more determined than ever to play our part in the nation’s sustainable future and we need to continue to work together with industry partners at a fast pace.

While all of Coca-Cola’s bottles have been 100 per cent recyclable for many years and our 50% rPET milestone means we’ve now doubled our rPET usage and forms part of our long-term investment in the UK’s circular economy -   we’ve also expanded our industry partnerships this year,  with the likes of CuRe Technology –  a recycling start-up which seeks to provide a new lease of life for difficult to recycle plastic polyester waste.

All our packaging across our portfolio contains ‘Please Recycle Me’ messages to encourage people to dispose of cans and bottles responsibly and we will continue collaborating with our customers in retail, wholesale and hospitality so that we can engage more consumers in environmental issues and help drive changes in behavior on a wider scale.

We’re more determined than ever to play our part in the nation’s sustainable future and we need to continue to work together with industry partners at a fast pace.

This includes initiatives such as the Loop direct to consumer refillable packaging trial in GB we are taking part in with 1 litre refillable glass bottles of Coca-Cola zero sugar and Coca-Cola original taste.

Implementing effective recycling infrastructure

One of the key challenges the industry currently faces – and one many manufacturers are familiar with – is that there simply isn’t enough food-grade recycled plastic locally available in the UK to switch to 100 per cent rPET at this stage.

All of our GLACEAU smartwater bottles in GB were moved into 100% rPET packaging last year – which helped to remove more than 2,800 tonnes of virgin plastic from circulation in 2019 and we’re determined to replicate the headway made by our colleagues in Norway and the Netherlands, who recently announced the switch to 100 per cent recycled plastic across most of our portfolio.

Key to this success in both markets is the presence of a well-established deposit return scheme (DRS).

We’ve long supported the introduction of a well-designed and effective DRS scheme in the UK and we’re continuing to work closely with the UK governments and other stakeholders to bring this about without delay.

This has such a vital part to play in ensuring a truly circular economy, by reducing litter and ensuring more packaging is collected for recycling.

We want to help create a truly circular economy, and we see a DRS as crucial progress, but it’s important we take a holistic and coherent view.

It’s why we also support the reform and review of Extended Producer Responsibility and why we welcome the recent updates in the Environment Bill around setting targets for waste reduction.

We are committed to working closely with the UK governments and all stakeholders to help make sure these are ambitious and achievable. 

Looking to the future

While the impacts of the pandemic are far reaching and on-going and we don’t know exactly what the future will look like, we do have a huge opportunity in our hands to support the Government in building back better – and greener.

It is crucial that we take this opportunity to consider our responsibilities and how we can use business as a force for good.

It’s hugely encouraging to see the progress being made by many businesses across the board and at CCEP we’re more passionate than ever about the role we can play in the vision for a fully circular economy.

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