Coca-Cola European Partners unveils new GB sustainable packaging strategy
Coca-Cola European Partners has unveiled its new GB sustainable packaging strategy – setting out an ambition for its GB business unit to work with local and national partners to recover all its packaging so that more is recycled and none ends up as litter.
At present, only 70% of the cans1 and 57%2 of the plastic bottles used each year are recycled, CCEP believes these figures should be higher. Through its new GB sustainable packaging strategy, the company sets out the key actions it will take, and the areas where it will look to work with others, to improve the recovery and recycling of drinks packaging, and to reduce littering in Great Britain.
The new strategy is focused on three key areas:
Continuing to innovate to ensure its packaging is as sustainable as possible
CCEP has built a strong track record of lightweighting, ensuring all its cans and bottles are 100% recyclable, and using recycled materials. It now wants to build on its work, with plans to double the amount of recycled plastic in every one of its PET bottles over the next three years – from the current average of 25% to 50% by 2020. To achieve this ambitious target it will continue its long term partnership with Clean Tech, which operates Europe’s largest and most advanced plastic bottle reprocessing facility in Lincolnshire, supporting the circular economy in Great Britain and allowing recycled bottles to return to shop shelves as part of new packs in as little as six weeks.
Investing in consumer communication to promote recycling and encourage behaviour change
As part of the new strategy, Coca-Cola will use the power of its brands to inspire more consumers to recycle. Later this month, the company will launch a multi-million pound communications campaign designed to inspire more people to recycle. At the heart of the campaign is an advert called Love Story, which will break on TV at the end of July and run across TV, cinema and digital channels. The advert features two love struck plastic bottles who are parted and then reunited as they are disposed of properly, recovered and then recycled into new bottles. The campaign will reach 35 million Britons by the end of this year. The company will also be putting a new recycling message on bottles this year and promoting recycling to six million people at festivals and events.
Championing reform of the UK recycling system to ensure more packaging is recovered and recycled
The company will continue to work in partnership with others – including the Governments of Great Britain – to improve the current packaging recycling system. To support the growth of the circular economy in Great Britain, the company will champion well-designed new interventions that have the potential to increase packaging collection and recycling rates, including stronger recycling targets, deposit return schemes and extended producer responsibility.
In addition, as part of its commitment to support DEFRA’s new working group on voluntary and economic incentives to reduce littering, CCEP will seek to advance its own knowledge of how consumers are motivate by an incentive-based scheme by testing an on-the-go bottle collection and reward programme. This test will examine the behavioural impact of reward schemes and help inform any future national approaches to reducing litter and increasing collection and recycling rates. More details on these trials will be announced later this year.
Leendert den Hollander, Vice President and General Manager at Coca-Cola European Partners GB, said: “We have long been committed to reducing the environmental impact of our packaging. We have ensured that all our bottles and cans are 100% recyclable; we have reduced the weight of our packs as much as possible; and have a long-standing commitment to use locally-sourced rPET and other recycled materials in our packaging.
“Coca-Cola operates in Great Britain as two businesses – Coca-Cola Great Britain and its bottling partner Coca-Cola European Partners – and it is through this strong partnership that we have been able to make significant progress in recent years. However, both companies realise there is much more to be done and we have worked together to build an end-to-end strategy focused on meaningful actions in three key areas.
“Our goal is to work with local and national partners to ensure all of our packaging is recovered and recycled. Our new strategy sets out how we will start work to achieve that. We have focused on the actions we can take as a business – such as our ability to communicate to consumers on the importance of recycling – as well as the areas where we want to work in close collaboration with others to reduce litter and increase the recovery and recycling of plastic bottles.
“Our desire to double the amount of recycled material we use in our plastic bottles sends a clear signal that we want to play a positive role in supporting the circular economy here in Great Britain. Our ambition – and our ability to go further in the future – will require reform of the packaging collection system in Great Britain and we will work with others to champion the changes that are required to ensure all our valuable materials are recovered.”
Chris Brown, Managing Director at Clean Tech, said “We’re are pleased Coca-Cola is making a significant commitment to increasing the recycled content in their bottles. We, as part of Plastipak, are proud to be the largest producer of food-grade recycled PET plastic in Europe and our significant partnership with Coca-Cola actively demonstrates the increasing demand for high quality recycled plastic in the drinks industry. We want to provide manufacturers like Coca-Cola with even more of this material, but to do that the first step is to recover more used bottles.”
Marcus Gover, Chief Executive of WRAP, said: “To have a brand as well-known and with the reach of Coca-Cola actively encouraging more people to recycle is a really positive step which we welcome. A commitment that half of all the plastic they use will be recycled plastic, understanding that this will cost the business more, shows real leadership in the industry and provides the essential market for recovered materials. Initiatives like this are much needed if we are to change consumer behaviour and recover and recycle more – WRAP and Recycle Now are excited to be working with them on this. We need more big brands to help inspire people to do their part.”
Keep Britain Tidy’s Chief Executive, Allison Ogden-Newton, said: “Coca-Cola’s commitment is welcome news for those of us who are working to reduce litter and waste and increase recycling. Every day, around 16 million plastic bottles are littered or end up in landfill and to have a global brand like Coca-Cola leading the way in developing the new solutions and changes in behaviour required is a real step forward. We particularly welcome their ambition to recover and recycle all of their packaging and hope that this inspires others to step up and help bring about the changes required.”
Paul Vanston, Chief Executive of INCPEN, said: ‘Huge progress to recycle more has been achieved across the UK over the last 15 years. That’s happened through customers, companies and councils sharing beliefs and actions that getting into the recycling mindset is the right thing to do. Coca-Cola’s latest initiatives aim to shift UK recycling activities into a higher gear. By joining up the campaigning messages, the collection and capture of recyclables, and also the remanufacture processes, Coca-Cola is demonstrating clear leadership.”
Jane Bevis, Chair of OPRL, said: “Consumers tell us they want clear, consistent and simple information on how to recycle or dispose of packaging. That's the key to achieving higher recycling rates and CCEP's commitment in supporting cross-brand initiatives such as the On-Pack Recycling Label is crucial in embedding effective recycling behaviours. We applaud the extra steps CCEP is taking in engaging their consumers, through campaigns at festivals, marketing and further calls to action on-pack, and look forward to continuing our close partnership in influencing consumer behaviour. We believe very strongly that this leadership should be reflected in a reformed producer responsibility system that recognises and rewards responsible producers like CCEP.”
Notes to Editors
(1) - 70 per cent of cans recycled - Alupro.org.uk
(2) - 57 per cent of plastic bottles recycled - Recoup UK Household Plastics Collection Survey 2016
Our journey so far:
All our bottles and cans are 100% recyclable.
The plastic bottles we use for all our brands – such as the Coca-Cola 500ml – contain 25% recycled PET. And we want to double that to 50% recycled plastic by 2020.
Today, we use 10,000 tonnes of recycled plastic in our bottles every year in Great Britain sourced from Clean Tech in Lincolnshire.
Our partnership with this facility started in 2012 when we invested to help the plant become the first in the UK to meet the quality standards to recycle used plastic bottles so they can be used in new bottles. In those five years we have recycled the equivalent of 2 billion bottles, using them in our packaging.
Our glass bottles and cans also contain high levels of recycled materials – 56% and 49% respectively.
PlantBottle – a plastic made partly from plant material, rather than fossil fuels – accounts for up to 30% of the plastic used in our Smartwater and Honest Tea packs. It performs the same as traditional PET plastic and is fully recyclable.
We were one of the original signatories to WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment, and in Great Britain we have reduced the amount of packaging we use by 27% in the past decade.
We continue to make our packs as light as possible – our 500ml Coca-Cola bottles now weigh just 19g, almost 50% less than in 1994. And our new Abbey Well ‘twist’ pack has been designed to use 32% less material and the shape makes it easier to recycle.
The caps on all our plastic bottles are recyclable and now weigh just 2g – some 20% less than they did in 2014.
Our sustainable packaging strategy is an important part of our ongoing efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of our business. Packaging accounts for 40% of carbon emissions across our value chain. Using recycled materials is a key way to reduce this impact. For instance: it takes 60% less energy to produce recycled PET compared with virgin plastic.
We have been using the power of our brands to influence our consumers about the importance of responsible disposal of our packaging for many years: we have carried out research into the barriers to recycling and have led consumer communication campaigns at festivals, during sampling activities, with our customers in stores and in partnership with Local Authorities.
We joined the On-Pack Recycling Label scheme in 2012 and will continue to support this voluntary scheme of consistent communication on packaging recyclability. The OPRL is a cross-sector initiative used by more than 550 brands and achieving more than 70% recognition with consumers (WRAP Research, September 2016). Two thirds of consumers say they regularly or fairly frequently refer to OPRL when deciding how to recycle packaging (RECOUP Research, August 2016).