Striving for Sustainability

Striving for Sustainability

Tom Shelflife-01-01 Tom Shelflife-01-01

What did 2020 hold for you in terms of your strategy to achieve a ‘World Without Waste’? 

Like all businesses, Covid-19 created many unforeseen challenges and disrupted our ways of working more than we could have ever envisaged. However, one of the greatest sources of pride for me is that we navigated the pandemic, protecting our people and maintaining business continuity, and with a steadfast commitment to our ambitious sustainability agenda. 

Our strategy to create a World Without Waste remained a key priority for Coca-Cola HBC throughout 2020. A key focus area is to design more sustainable packaging - we are committed to ensuring 100% recyclability for out bottles and cans, integrating more recycled content into our packs, and reducing unnecessary packaging. 

We are also working to improve collection and recycling rates for packaging across the island. Our commitment is that by 2030, 100% of our bottles and cans will be collected for recycling. With the right infrastructure, and partnerships with industry and government, we’re confident that we can achieve this ambitious target. 


How significantly have you managed to reduce plastic packaging? What were the main steps and investments that enabled Coca-Cola HBC to reach this result?

We have invested heavily in recycled plastic, because we know that this will help to create a true circular economy by keeping packaging in use for longer. 

Today, more than 45% of our total plastic portfolio comprises of recycled plastic. In simple terms, this has eliminated the need for 3,450 tonnes of new plastic annually. We are well on track to achieve our goal of 50% recycled content by 2030. 

We have consistently reduced plastic use also – our bottles now use 10% less packaging than in 2018. This was achieved through, what we call, ‘light-weighting’ of our bottles and also the introduction of a smaller closure. 

We are investing in new and innovative packaging technology. In 2020, we launched KeelClip, a cardboard solution for our 4, 6 and 8 multipack cans, which replaces the hard-to-recycle shrink wrap plastic. This work continues, and in April, we will move to cardboard solutions for larger multipacks. In total, this will eliminate 500 tonnes of shrink wrap plastic annually.  

It is a real source of pride that we were the first soft drink producer to introduce this more sustainable secondary packaging, and the first market to launch across Europe. 



It is a real source of pride that we were the first soft drink producer to introduce this more sustainable secondary packaging, and the first market to launch across Europe. 

Tom Burke Public Affairs and Communications Director, Coca-Cola HBC

Why is sustainability such an important part of your company focus?

For Coca-Cola HBC, sustainability not as a ‘nice to have’ but rather a key enabler of our journey to become a Leading 24/7 Beverage Partner to our customers. It is also more than environment stewardship – it is a commitment to create and share value for all our stakeholders. This is a principle that has guided our strategy for our more than 80 years of operations on the island. 

Our Group have also set an ambitious sustainability targets called Mission 2025 and this progress focuses on six areas:  emissions reduction; water reduction and stewardship; World Without Waste; sustainable sourcing; nutrition; and our people and communities. 

I’m proud to say that this our holistic commitment to sustainability came to fore throughout the pandemic as we worked to support our communities, however and wherever we could. 

As part of the relief effort, we donated 1 million of our drinks to frontline healthcare staff and funded over 100,000 meals to foodbanks and charities via FoodCloud. We also leveraged our supply chain where we could, providing 10,000 bottles for use as hand sanitiser dispensers for care homes across the island. 

We have plans now to reshape our community support programmes to support those most in need.  We want to support a quick recovery for all from the impacts of the current pandemic – and we are particularly focused on supporting young people who have been disproportionally impacted by the effects of the pandemic. 

We are reworking the youth development programmes that we operate, #YouthEmpowered and the Thank You Fund, to provide meaningful support to young people who need support to restart their career and play a proactive role in building a better future for their communities.

Our community will need more support than ever over the coming months as we emerge from this tumultuous period and Coca-Cola HBC stands ready to play its part to support that recovery. 


How do you ensure buy-in for your sustainability agenda across your organisation? 

Ensuring we have the right people in the right positions is key to delivering on our sustainability commitments. Our Packaging and Sustainability Manager leads a dedicated packaging taskforce, which comprises cross-functional expertise from supply chain, marketing, communications, and finance.

We also take a holistic approach to sustainability, understanding that our environmental targets will only be achieved when we all work together. We deploy several initiatives to heighten employee awareness and engagement, encouraging environmental stewardship right across our organisation. These include our ‘Ambassador’ programme which supports employees to understand the actions we are taking to minimise our impact on the environment and wide-ranging internal communication strategies, including a dedicated campaign for ‘Sustainability Month’. 


How do you measure success in sustainability? 

For me, success is sustainable business growth that creates value for all, with respect for the environment and the communities in which we operate. 

We are proud to have been recognised externally for our commitment to sustainability. Just recently, the Coca-Cola HBC Group ranked as the world’s most sustainable beverage company in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.  This is the 5th time in the last 7 years that Coca-Cola HBC has been recognized as the global beverage industry leader and the 10th year in a row that we have been ranked as one of the top three companies.   

Locally, we were also awarded ‘Green Manufacturer of the Year’ in 2020 and have achieved ‘platinum status’ by Business in the Community Northern Ireland Environmental Benchmarking Awards. 

These awards are an acknowledgement of the dedication of our colleagues and reflects our core belief that creating long-lasting mutual value is fundamental to our future growth.


How has Coca-Cola worked to encourage more consumers to recycle bottles and cans?

In Ireland 7 out of 10 bottles are collected for recycling, but we recognise that there is more work to do. 

As mentioned, our World Without Waste strategy aims to achieve 100% collection of bottles and cans by 2030. 

We are active members of Repak and have also been working closely with the wider industry, NGO and government bodies over the last year to assess how we can play a proactive role in developing the right recycling infrastructure in Ireland. 

For Coca-Cola, this work has already started. Last year, thanks to investment from The Coca-Cola Foundation, we launched Dublin #CircleCity – a partnership with environmental charity Hubbub that funds recycling stations across the city. 

We are using the power of our brands and our partnerships to champion recycling. Recycling messages are now included on our all our packs and our TV ads. 

Deep RiverRock, our water brand, also launched a sustainability campaign to celebrate its 100% Recycled Bottle. ‘Made to make a difference’ was a full 360 campaign launched last year, to highlight the importance of creating a closed loop for packaging and encourages everyone to play their part by making small changes. 

Together, with our employees, customers, and community partners, we are confident that we are well-positioned to achieve our vision for a world without waste.

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