Admitting that “sustainability is critical,” John Brock, chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises, told Wharton’s business journal about some of the company’s environmentally and socially responsible decisions over the past few years.
A new fleet of hybrid delivery trucks. Brock says Coca-Cola boasts the largest fleet of large-scale, hybrid electric trucks – 142 in total. The trucks consume 35 percent less fuel and generate 35 percent less emissions. They cost about 40 percent more, but they pay for themselves.
Carbon footprint reduction. Coca-Cola has added energy-efficient coolers, LED lighting in warehouses, has installed wind turbines in Wakefield, England and solar panels at a California distribution center.
Recycling. Coca-Cola was ranked No. 1. on the beverage container recycling scorecard, As You Sow reported last week, citing the company’s beverage container source reduction, company-wide recovery goals, and investments in recycling programs.
“We want, and are very close to having, all of our packaging materials recyclable,” said Brock.
Coke has the highest percentage of recycled content in its aluminum cans and pledged to recover 50 percent of its plastic bottles and cans by 2015.
The next step is figuring out a reclaiming program, but the most efficient model for one region may not be so for the next, so Coke is working with the American Beverage Association and individual cities to find the best plan. It just built the world’s largest reprocessing facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina (a $60 million investment) to recycle aluminum and plastic.
Water use efficiency. In October, the company said it had achieved a two percent improvement in water use efficiency: Coca-Cola plants now use an average of 2.47 liters of water to make one liter of beverage.
Sustainability is not niche anymore, Brock concluded. “It’s not just something you kind of do when you’re thinking about it. It’s something we take seriously, and it has to be done all the time.”