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Inspiring sustainable soft drink choices

Coca-Cola Enterprises | Coca-Cola Europacific Partners

5 min read Partner content

Leendert den Hollander, General Manager of Coca-Cola Enterprises GB (CCE), sets out the company’s commitment to inspire sustainable soft drinks choices.

Coca-Cola Enterprises is a dynamic business in a dynamic environment. Yes, we face challenging macro-economic conditions, and we are very aware of the bigger societal issues around health and wellness - but that’s why I am keen that our business looks ahead and focuses around the positive role we can play ‘Inspiring sustainable soft drinks choices’. It’s our new vision for CCE. And each word of that vision has been carefully chosen – let me explain why briefly…

Our first job is INSPIRING consumers, our business partners and policymakers

Of course, we largely do this through our brand innovations and our marketing – ensuring that we continue to meet changing consumer needs. This includes our investments in reducing the sugar content of popular brands like Sprite or launching entirely new, lower-sugar products like Coca-Cola Life. Some of you will also be aware of the work we have been doing over many years to engage consumers – encouraging healthy, active lifestyles and engaging with our local communities where we operate. I am particularly proud of what our business is doing to inspire 90,000 young people and prepare them for the world of employment through the education centres we have built at five of our factories and through our national Real Business Challenge – which culminates at a Parliamentary reception with students on 17 March.

Second, we are committed to being as SUSTAINABLE as possible now and for the future

One of the key things I have learnt in my first year at CCE is that we are a truly British business with a genuine belief in sustainability. Sustainability is in the DNA of everything we do - both for the environment and in our role as a British business. That’s important – expectations are growing in this area – and we must not only be doing well as a business, but we must be doing good as well.

We are proud of our heritage as a British manufacturer, having made products for the British market for over 100 years. As we look ahead to another century, we are committed to supporting the sustainable future of our sector, British industry and the broader economy which is helping us to deliver real value and to support jobs across the country. As a British business, we continue to invest in this country – around £60m this year alone in our operations – and we know that every high quality job we provide directly supports a further eight jobs along our value chain. Every £1 of value we create generates a further £8 for the wider economy.

But it’s not just about doing well, it’s also about doing good – not least through our efforts to be a true leader on sustainable packaging. We are constantly looking for innovative ways to improve our packaging and energy consumption, all with the ultimate goal of reducing the carbon footprint of the drink in the consumer’s hand by a third, by 2020. We are on track to hit this target by using fewer materials (our PET bottles now weigh less then 20g); designing our packs to be fully recyclable; and incorporating recycled materials, such as the PET used for our 500ml bottles which we source from Europe’s largest plastic bottle recycling facility in Lincolnshire. This sourcing commitment has meant the doubling of the plastics reprocessing infrastructure in this country.

For many years we have also been engaging directly with consumers on the lifecycle of our packs, to help make crucial improvements to recycling behaviour in this country. We work closely with our retail partners, regulators and other stakeholders to inspire consumers to recycle more, in fun and accessible ways.   

Finally, our vision is about making the right CHOICES for our company and for our consumers

As a business, we made the strategic choice to lead on sustainability and to take a leading role in the debate on health and wellbeing. For our consumers, this means offering them a range of brands and products that will allow them to make the right choices for them and for their families. It is also about helping our consumers make informed choices – which is why we are this year introducing colour-coded nutrition labelling on our products in Great Britain.

We recognise that consumer needs and expectations are constantly changing, and that we must evolve our offering to accommodate this. More than a third of what we sell today is low and no-calorie. We are continuing to invest in this trend, and as we set out our vision to continue to inspire sustainable soft drinks choices, we announced today that by 2020, Great Britain will be the first country in the world where more than 50 per cent of the cola we sell will be from lower or no calorie.

I believe we have made strong progress as a business over the past five years. Our hope for the next Parliament is that policymakers choose to continue working closely and in genuine partnership with forward-thinking businesses. I really believe that is the best way to make further progress – and in the process ‘Inspiring sustainable soft drinks choices’.

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