Coke Zero: Coca-Cola Europacific Partners has ambitious net zero targets

Posted on 6 Oct 2022 by Joe Bush

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners' Vice President, Customer Service and Supply Chain GB, Javier Sanchez Gandarias, discusses the manufacturer’s latest supply chain innovations and how they will help to reduce GHG emissions by 30% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2040.

During this blisteringly hot summer, no doubt all of us are regularly reaching for a refreshing soft drink in an effort to cool off. However, as consumers we probably don’t pay much thought to how that can or bottle has ended up in our fridge. Yet, with products that are produced in such large quantities, sustainability is a key business driver for Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP), and as such, the company has undertaken a number of supply chain initiatives, and significant investments, over the last few years to enhance its net zero credentials.

The new attached cap design means that the cap stays connected to the bottle after opening, aiding recycling and reducing waste

“We want to be a responsible manufacturer here in Great Britain,” said Javier. “As an industry we don’t have all the answers yet but it’s an area that we are exploring because sustainability is at the heart of our business.”

The This is Forward programme is CCEP’s sustainability action plan, which underpins business strategy in Europe. The company is taking action on six key social and environmental areas which will have the most impact.

These are the packaging of the company’s products, redesigning and reimagining how soft drinks are delivered; the drinks themselves, focusing on sugar reduction while offering consumers more choice; being a force for good within society and the communities in Great Britain in which the company operates, while promoting a diverse and inclusive culture; reducing water consumption and protecting local water sources for future generations; and easing pressure on vulnerable supply chains by sourcing ingredients sustainably and responsibly.

In each of these areas CCEP has made a number of commitments that align with the targets underpinning the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As an example, CCEP recently announced the launch of new bottles with attached caps, making it the first major soft drinks company to have made this switch. This will avoid caps being discarded after being removed from the bottle and will help to keep litter under control.

“We recognise our responsibility to make sure our packaging is recovered and recycled as much as possible. This integration is also in line with a transition to 100% recycled plastic in all our half litre bottles across the entire range, which saves 20,000 tonnes of virgin plastic every year,” Javier added.

Furthermore, CCEP has adopted lighter cans, which carry 22% less weight than they did just two years ago, and the company has also moved into the production of Shrink to Board packs. Cans that were being wrapped in plastic are now moving to cardboard, saving 4,000 tonnes of plastic from circulation across Western Europe.

The driving force of technology

As is often the case in modern manufacturing, a core element of the company’s digital strategy centres around the use of data analytics, which will assist in achieving a more digitalised way of operating.

With the help of SAP, CCEP has an integrated business plan which provides better forecasts and planning, meaning the company can use its network far more wisely. “This means we have more efficient manufacturing and less movement in distribution,” Javier added.

“Our business plan is an end-to-end programme which helps us run a supply chain based on technology. The idea is that we use less energy and are more efficient in the way we operate – less unnecessary movements and changeovers, which greatly impacts our carbon footprint. For example, we’re using real-time visibility to track the way we’re using trucks and distribution to optimise these parts of the business and minimise emissions. Everyone is excited about CO2 reduction, but we need to have the data to back it up.”

To this end Coca-Cola Europacific Partners is collaborating not only with the rest of the Coca-Cola Company, but with the rest of the bottling community across the world, in order to develop a proper method to measure production lines and to have more control over energy consumption.

The journey to net zero by 2040

Javier explained that the majority of Coca-Cola Europacific Partners’ carbon footprint can be attributed to packaging. This is a challenge the company is currently dealing with, and a number of potential options are being assessed in order to reduce the carbon intensity of the company’s packaging. In the future this could involve further optimisation in how cans are manufactured, exploring alternative resins for the plastic bottles or even establishing new ways of selling products i.e. refillable bottles or expanding dispensing options.

Within the manufacturing process, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners is reducing the use of gas at its sites wherever possible, switching the ovens at its Edmonton site to electric, and moving to a 100% renewable electricity source. In terms of distribution the company shifted slightly towards rail last year, primarily to mitigate against the shortage of truck drivers. However, this has also had an impact on the company’s carbon footprint.

A total investment of £28m has been made at CCEP’s manufacturing site in Sidcup

“We would like to include rail as part of our agenda, not as a substitute for trucks but a complimentary element to our distribution,” Javier added.

“We’re looking at packaging, manufacturing and distribution. The journey we have ahead of us is challenging but I feel confident that everyone is aligned with finding alternative, more sustainable ways to refresh the world.”

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Attached caps boost collection and recycling

New attached caps make it easier to recycle the entire package and ensure no cap gets left behind. Production of bottles with attached caps has commenced at CCEP’s site in East Kilbride, meaning that consumers in Scotland and the north of England may start to see new caps attached to 1.5l bottles of Fanta, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Diet Coke. The switch is set to be completed for all plastic bottles across Coca-Cola GB’s range of brands by 2024.

All of Coca-Cola’s bottles, including the caps, have been 100% recyclable for many years. However, not all are recycled and some are discarded and littered. The new design means that the cap stays connected to the bottle after opening, so the whole plastic bottle and attached cap can be recycled together.

In addition, from the end of September, CCEP extended the roll-out of its attached caps to 500ml plastic bottles.

State-of-the-art canning line

A total investment of £28m has been made at CCEP’s manufacturing site in Sidcup. The site, which operates ten production lines and is the only Coca-Cola site in Great Britain to produce 150ml and 250ml cans, has seen the deployment of a state-of-the-art highspeed canning line, capable of producing 2,000 cans per minute.

The investment elevates the site’s capabilities and supports the production of sustainable packaging for CCEP’s brands. The site has already seen a 26% reduction in its carbon footprint since 2010, which can be attributed to a variety of energy saving measures, including the installation of the site’s Automated Storage Retrieval System (ASRS), and has significantly increased efficiencies across the supply chain, saving 3,687 tonnes of CO2 per year and 10,817 road miles by HGV trucks.

The new line has accelerated these carbon savings even further, with the investment helping the business on its mission to become net zero by 2040. The new line has also opened up 19 new job roles in the local area.

Edmonton site: on a journey to carbon neutrality

CCEP’s Edmonton site has seen £42m invested since 2017, with a focus on increasing sustainability initiatives. The aim is for the site to be carbon neutral. Investment in a rear door loading facility has expanded the capacity of the site’s automated warehouse, increasing capacity by 22%.

Having more efficient and capable warehouses results in the use of less external warehouses and movement of trucks. Edmonton has achieved a 70% reduction in carbon emissions by using alternative energy sources where possible, with plans in place to connect to the district heating system, instead of using gas in the site’s boilers.

The site, which has been using 100% renewable electricity for over ten years, has also recently replaced all material handling equipment (MHE), such as forklift trucks, with new models powered by lithium-ion batteries, which produce no carbon emissions in their day-to-day operations.

On a recent site visit, Kate Osamor, MP for Edmonton, said: “This significant investment at Edmonton demonstrates CCEP’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, as well as to the surrounding community and local economy. The business has been a key employer in Edmonton for almost five decades, and it’s fantastic to see how it’s evolved in this time, continuing to invest in sustainability and wellbeing every step of the way.”

Supply chain finance programme with Rabobank

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) has established a new sustainability-linked supply chain finance programme, structured and operated by specialist food and agri bank Rabobank.  Rabobank will provide funding to the programme with other banks expected to participate and grow the facility over time.

The programme, one of the first of its kind in the global beverage industry, incentivises and rewards suppliers to make sustainability improvements in their businesses. It will provide competitive financing that is linked to a number of sustainability-driven KPIs for suppliers that, when met, unlock incremental discounts against the initial funding rate, and align with CCEP’s own action to reduce emissions across its entire value chain and reach net zero by 2040.

Over 90% of CCEP’s emissions are attributed to its supply chain, and it has already asked its suppliers to take three actions to make impactful carbon reductions in their businesses: setting and validating reduction targets with the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) by 2023; committing to using 100% renewable electricity across their operations by 2023 and sharing their carbon footprint data. The programme will build on this and set KPIs for suppliers in improving their overall ESG ratings, via assessment from EcoVadis (a leading provider of business sustainability ratings).

Initially launched in Germany, the programme will be expanded to CCEP’s suppliers in the rest of Europe, Australia and New Zealand in future phases.

CCEP will also partner with Rabo Foundation, Rabobank’s social impact fund, to support one of its farmer programmes in Indonesia that promotes the adoption of sustainable practices and farm inputs to increase yields and achieve better long-term economic strength.