Coca-Cola in Great Britain unveils new sustainable packaging strategy

Company to double the amount of rPET in its bottles by 2020, launch consumer campaign to convey the importance of recycling, and champion reform of the packaging recycling system in Great Britain.

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CCEP logo

Coca-Cola European Partners has unveiled its new Great Britain sustainable packaging strategy, setting out an ambition for its Great Britain 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 cans and 57% of the plastic bottles used each year are recycled. CCEP believes these figures should be higher. Through its new Great Britain 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 beverage packaging, and to reduce littering in Great Britain.

The new strategy is focused on three key areas:

1. 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 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.

2. Investing in consumer communication to promote recycling and encourage behavior 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-dollar communications campaign designed to inspire more people to recycle. 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 6 million people at festivals and events.

3. Championing reform of the U.K. 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 (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) new working group on voluntary and economic incentives to reduce littering, CCEP will seek to advance its own knowledge of how consumers are motivated by an incentive-based scheme by testing an on-the-go bottle collection and reward program. This test will examine the behavioral 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.

Says Leendert den Hollander, Vice President and General Manager at Coca-Cola European Partners GB, “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 we 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 realize 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.”

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