Coca-Cola Enterprises aims to lead the drinks industry through its bold ambition to reduce the carbon footprint of the drink in the consumer’s hand by a third by 2020 (compared with a 2007 baseline).
The company plans to achieve this ambition through a number of key initiatives:
- Continued innovation in its packaging
- Transforming PET recycling in Great Britain
- Inspiring consumers and encouraging them to recycle more
What and How:
Innovation in Packaging
Coca-Cola Enterprises has a long-running programme to optimise packaging design to reduce weight. It also continues to focus on the recyclability of its packs. It wants to ensure that all its cans and bottles are easily recycled – and estimate that 98% of its packs currently fit the bill. Alongside these innovations the company introduced its PlantBottle concept in Great Britain in September 2011. Here, it has committed to ensuring that its 500ml PET bottles will contain up to 25% recycled PET and 22.5% plant-based material (sourced from sugarcane). These packs will be widely available on the London 2012 Olympic venues, and the company has committed to recycle all 20 million PET bottles that estimated to be disposed of at Olympics venues and turn them into new packs within six weeks of the closing ceremony.
Transforming PET recycling
Producing recycled PET is only a third as carbon intensive as virgin materials. However, the nascent state of the UK recovery sector means that no reprocessors had the capacity or capability to produce enough material to meet Coca-Cola Enterprises’ objective of 25% recycled PET in all its bottles by 2012. As a result, last year the company decided to transform recycling in this country through a partnership with leading recycler ECO Plastics and a commitment to build the largest PET plastic recycling facility in Western Europe (with a 25,000 tonnes capacity). Its joint venture business – Continuum Recycling, based in Lincolnshire – will more than double the reprocessing of PET bottles in this country to 75,000 tonnes.
Inspiring consumers to recycle
Coca-Cola Enterprises estimates that as much as 70% of its packaging is disposed of at home. Through shopper research, the company has identified that there are many barriers to recycling in the home. As a result, the company has developed a strategy to inspire consumers and encourage them to recycle more – focusing its efforts to date on PET, which has the lowest recovery rate of any packaging material in the drinks sector.
A key element of its strategy is engaging consumers and reassuring them that PET bottles can not only be readily recycled but thanks to interventions such as its investment in Continuum Recycling will increasingly be turned back into new bottles with clear environmental benefits. Through a variety of campaigns such as ‘Rock Your Rubbish’, ‘Swap for Swag’, as well as a partnership recycling promotion with Asda, the company has been educating consumers around recycling.
In 2010, the company used around 60,000 tonnes less material in Great Britain than 2007 – thanks to initiatives such as the lighweighting of its glass bottle (from 263g to 210g) and the development of a new ‘short height closure’ for its 500ml bottles (which saved some 3,000 tonnes of plastic). Coca-Cola Enterprises looks for savings in its secondary packaging too – saving 2,500 tonnes of cardboard a year through its decision to remove trays from PET bottle multi-packs and develop a new wrapping system in its factories.
Coca-Cola Enterprises’ joint venture Continuum Recycling is the first time that a major international brand has directly supported the development of recycling technology on this scale and, as well as providing £5m of seed funding for the £15m joint venture, it has agreed a 10-year partnership with Continuum to purchase PET from its Lincolnshire facility.
As a proud sponsor of the Olympic Games, Coca-Cola will be promoting the importance of recycling throughout the summer through more direct engagement with consumers to inspire them about the importance of recycling.