Louise Sullivan, our Public Affairs and Communications Director, shares some insights on Coca‑Cola HBC's commitment to sustainability, and recent progress on our journey towards creating a World Without Waste.
How significant is Coca‑Cola HBC’s historical and economic footprint in Ireland and Northern Ireland?
Coca‑Cola HBC is now in its 80th year of operation on the island. In this milestone year, it is gratifying to look back on what has been achieved in these eighty years, and the role our business has played in shaping the local economy and the communities we serve.
We now employ approximately 470 people from our state-of-the-art facility in Knockmore Hill, Lisburn, Co. Antrim, and a further 280 through our operations in the Republic of Ireland. In the last year alone, we have made approximately £5million capital investment in our facility, which will support our continued growth and our sustainability agenda.
Our successful legacy in Northern Ireland is built upon our deep commitment to supporting and investing in our local communities. We strive to add value through programmes that we believe will have the most impact; our key focus areas are youth development and environmental stewardship.
In its third year, our #YouthEmpowered programme has trained more than 1,000 young people across the island who are currently not in education, employment or training, through workshops and our online training platform, the #YouthEmpowered Digital Hub. We also support projects that inspire and support young people with grants through our annual Thank You Fund.
For the past 15 years, we have also supported the Clean Coasts programme, in partnership with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and An Taisce. This programme protects and promotes our beautiful coastline by supporting clean-ups and behavioural change in relation to litter and waste.
What is Coca‑Cola HBC's approach to sustainability?
I don’t believe that any market-leading business can operate successfully without an authentic commitment to sustainable and responsible operations. Sustainability is at the core of our values and is a key part of our business strategy.
Since opening our plant in Knockmore Hill, we have tangibly reduced our impact on the environment. In 2010, we set ambitious environmental sustainability targets and gave ourselves 10 years to achieve them. Targets were set against recycling and waste, energy usage and water conservation.
We are proud to report that we have already made extensive progress, even achieving some of our targets ahead of schedule.
We commit zero waste to landfill at our Lisburn facility; achieving this five years ahead of schedule. We have reduced our water usage by over 10% since 2010; improving our water ratio to 1: 1.53. This means that we now use just 1.53 litres of water to produce 1 litre of our beverages.
We have also reduced our energy usage by almost 19% since 2010. This has saved us more than 32 million megajoules of energy, which is not just good for the planet, but also makes business sense.
These results have been achieved through a firm prioritisation of our commitments from senior management to our factory floor. Everyone in our business understands that they have a role to play in helping to achieve our sustainability goals.
- 10% water reduction
- 19% energy reduction
- Zero waste to landfill
Have you been recognised for your sustainability achievements?
We are proud to say that our dedication to sustainability has been recognised both at a local and global level.
Our Coca‑Cola HBC Group was recognised as beverage leader by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for four consecutive years.
Closer to home, our operations have also been recognised. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, we were proud to have achieved Platinum Status in the Business in the Community Northern Ireland Environmental Benchmarking Survey.
In 2017, we were granted the Water Champions Award by the Consumer Council Northern Ireland. We have also been recognized as ‘Green Manufacturer of the Year’ by the Green Awards.
In 2015, we also signed a Prosperity Agreement with the NIEA to drive improvements to our business, incorporating biodiversity and wider environmental projects. This work is underway and we are confident that all targets will be achieved by 2019.
What’s next on Coca‑Cola HBC’s sustainability agenda?
We share public concern about plastic and the impact it can have on the environment when it’s disposed of incorrectly.
The majority of our consumers want refreshment in a light, resealable pack, and bottles continue to play an important role in getting our products safely to market. However, we also recognise that we must show leadership in making our bottles as sustainable as possible.
That’s why, in partnership with The Coca‑Cola Company, we launched our World Without Waste strategy last year, with localised commitments to make our packaging more sustainable.
This global strategy sets out an ambition to design more sustainable packaging; to collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can we sell by 2030; and to partner with NGOs, customers and stakeholders to help clean up the planet.
The good news is that in Ireland and Northern Ireland we have already made significant progress to fulfil the ambitions of this strategy.
Tell us more about the World Without Waste strategy?
Across the island of Ireland, all the bottles and cans we sell are already 100% recyclable and should therefore never end up as litter. We are also doing more to reduce the amount of plastic in our bottles overall and to integrate more recycled content into our packs to create a true circular economy for plastic.
We have already begun our journey to integrate recycled plastic (rPET) into our bottles, and by the end of 2019, we expect to have at least 25% rPET across our portfolio.
Over the last few months we have also focused on ‘light-weighting’ our packs, which means we’re reducing the amount of plastic we use across our supply chain overall. Last year alone, we reduced the plastic used in our bottles by 5% with the introduction of a smaller closure and we plan to light-weight our packs by a further 10% by 2030.
- 100% recyclable packs
- 25% recycled PET by 2019
- 10% lighter packs by 2030
World Without Waste also sets out an ambitious global strategy in the area of packaging collection. By 2030, we will collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can we sell. To achieve this, we are exploring how best how best we can support reform of existing packaging collection systems and improvements in infrastructure for on-the-go packaging recovery.
And finally, we recognise that we can’t do all of this alone, so we are partnering with those groups and stakeholders that can help us have the most impact on. We have worked with An Taisce and Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful for more than a decade on the Clean Coasts programme – supporting volunteers to keep our coastline free of litter.
Activities include Coca‑Cola Clean Coasts Week which encourages people to protect and celebrate their coastline. In 2018, we also contributed to the Big Beach Clean, which saw more than 400 employees across the island take to local beaches in a mass clean-up.
We are also using the power of our brands to encourage greater behavioural change and consumer awareness. We have integrated recycling messages across all Coca‑Cola and Deep RiverRock advertising and on-pack, and we are working closely with our retail partners to raise awareness of our actions in-store, among consumers.