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Coke CEO Also Considers Himself Chief Sustainability Officer

muhtar kent - cokeMuhtar Kent, CEO of Coca-Cola, is such a dedicated believer in corporate sustainability that he considers himself the firm’s chief sustainability officer, reports Forbes.

So strong is his belief that Kent said that he has never appointed a chief sustainability officer and “never will.”

At a corporate meeting on sustainability at Coke’s Atlanta headquarters, which included members of the supply chain, Coke execs discussed their long-term sustainability strategy, “Live Positively.”

Coke’s goals include:

– Going water-neutral in its operations, i.e., returning as much water to the world as it consumes,

– Reducing absolute carbon footprint 5 percent for plants in developed nations by 2015. Last year Coca-Cola Hellenic started a program to revamp 15 bottling plants, with energy efficiency in mind.

– Recovering all packaging so it can be reused instead of sent to landfills. For instance, last year Coke partnered with a clothing firm to turn recycled PET bottles into clothing. Also last year, Coca-Cola opened the world’s largest bottle-to-bottle recycling plant in Spartanburg, S.C. The plant is capable of producing approximately 100 million pounds of recycled PET plastic each year — the equivalent of nearly two billion 20 oz. Coca-Cola bottles.

– Further rollout of the PlantBottle, of which by the end of 2010 it expects to have sold more than 2 billion units.

– By 2015, Coke and its bottling partners have committed to using hydrofluorocarbon-free (HFC-free) technology for new vending machines and coolers.

Here are some excerpts of a Q&A with Kent.

– “We’ve put a stake in the ground with our commitment to water neutrality. This is good for business because it lowers our cost of production, it lowers our break-even points, it allows us to spend more money on our brands. Ditto for our carbon footprint goals, whether it’s distribution or refrigeration.”

– “Live Positively is our commitment to making a positive difference in the world. Through redesigning the way we work and live, we consider sustainability as part of everything we do.”

– “I say that the chief sustainability officer of the Coca-Cola Company is me. I have not appointed another one and never will. That’s me.”

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