Investigating the future of sustainable manufacturing

Posted on 30 May 2015 by The Manufacturer

Steve Adams, group director of Supply Chain Operations & Coca-Cola Enterprises GB, explores a research initiative launched to discover what a sustainable factory may look like in 2050.

Steve Adams, Group Director of Supply Chain Operations and Coca-Cola Enterprises GB
Steve Adams, group director, Supply Chain Operations and Coca-Cola Enterprises GB.

When it comes to tackling the fundamental issues impacting the manufacturing industry right now and in the years to come, collaboration within industry is key.

At a roundtable event recently held at Coca-Cola Enterprises’ (CCE) Milton Keynes factory, a host of colleagues, supply chain partners and leading academics came together to discuss the future of sustainable manufacturing, within the world of food and drink, the broader FMCG sector and beyond.

CCE fundamentally believes that the drive towards a sustainable future must be a joint effort, so for me, this was the perfect start to our six month partnership with Cranfield University – a research study that will delve into this important topic entitled: Sustainable Manufacturing for the Future.

What I witnessed on the day was very inspiring: figures from a range of professions and industries joining a collaborative discussion about sustainable manufacturing and the most pressing issues which faces the industry at large.

An important number of topics were discussed in Milton Keynes, from legislation and distribution of responsibility, to the intricacies of the circular economy and the future delivery of products to market – all this as part of a sustainable supply chain that will revolve around technologies that are yet to be realised.

It’s a vast topic, so unearthing new discoveries presents a distinct challenge, but we are committed to leading the way and challenging our industry peers to ask difficult questions of themselves and others.

At CCE, sustainability is in the DNA of everything we do – both for the environment and in our role as a British business. In 2014 we invested significantly in our operations – a total of £1m a week across the year, underpinned by our continued drive to lead the industry in sustainability, and commitment to grow more while using less.

However, we recognise that sustainability is just as much a societal issue as it is a concern for business, running through the communities where we operate, as well as being embedded within all aspects of the value chain.

All those interested in contributing to what promises to be an interesting and illuminating project, should contact us at [email protected] or tweet at @CokeCCE for more information.

I was hugely impressed by the observations and shared values presented by guests at the event, all of whom are clearly extremely passionate about sustainability and dedicated to understanding and learning more.

The key themes of the roundtable will be reported in a white paper this summer. The research team will then delve further and deeper into the topic, before delivering their final findings on how sustainability will evolve and what a sustainable factory may look like in 2050 in autumn this year.