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Coke Sustainability Report: Carbon Footprint Down Nearly 12%

Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) has reduced its carbon footprint, cut energy use, improved water efficiency, and increased internal recycling rates in 2009, according to the company’s fifth company-wide Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CRS) Report.

The report covers the company’s progress towards its “Commitment 2020,” a set of goals announced last year in each of its five strategic CRS focus areas: energy conservation/climate change, water stewardship, sustainable packaging/recycling, product portfolio/balanced and active lifestyle, and diverse and inclusive culture.

Here are some highlights from the report.

CCE reduced its carbon footprint by 11.5 percent, compared to 2007, reporting carbon emissions of 5.4 million metric tons. The company attributes the reduction to both refined data collection, and CCE’s $15 million in investments for energy-efficient technologies throughout its production plants, fleet and sales/marketing equipment in 2009. CCE also has invested in renewable energy such as solar panels and fuel cells.

Since packaging accounts for a large proportion of its product footprints, CCE focused on how to reduce packaging carbon impacts in 2009 by targeting the amount of virgin PET it uses in its bottles. The company is producing bottles with less plastic, using recycled PET (rPET), developing bottles that are recyclable, and using plant-based materials.

As an example, Coke introduced the PlantBottle, a fully recyclable PET bottle made from a blend of petroleum-based materials and up to 30 percent of plant-based materials.

CCE’s initial studies indicate a bottle composed of 30 percent bioPET or bPET uses 20 percent less carbon than virgin PET per bottle. So by using 25 percent rPET the carbon footprint is reduced by 20 percent, and by combining 25 percent rPET and 25 percent bPET, the bottle’s carbon footprint is reduced by 35 percent, according to the report.

CCE’s goal is to increase its use of rPET to 10 percent in North America and 25 percent in Europe, and to roll out the PlantBottle more widely where commercially viable.

Coca-Cola also opened the world’s largest bottle-to-bottle recycling plant last year in Spartanburg, S.C. The plant is capable of producing approximately 100 million pounds of recycled PET plastic each year, which is the equivalent of nearly two billion 20 oz. Coca-Cola bottles.

CCE achieved an average of 92 and 99 percent waste recycling rates at its North American and European facilities, respectively. The company also recovered more than 160 metric tons of aluminum and PET from the marketplace in North America.

In 2010, Coca-Cola is supporting its recycling efforts by sponsoring a recycling grant program that is designed to boost recycling across the country.

By using monitoring and targeting systems that allow CCE to track real-time energy use at each stage of production and by investing in energy-saving technologies, CCE also reduced its energy consumption by about 2.9 percent since 2007. CCE says these systems can reduce site energy consumption by up to 7 percent year on year.

These systems are in place at six of its facilities in Great Britain. CCE will install an additional four throughout Europe in 2010 and plans to install a pilot system at its Grand Rapids, Michigan, facility in 2010.

CCE also reduced its water use ratio to 1.67 liters of water used to make one liter of product using water-saving technologies and monitoring and targeting systems, which is an improvement of more than 3.5 percent from 2008.

Coca-Cola and the U.S. Agency for International Development have jointly invested $12.7 million in a global partnership to support water scarcity and quality in Africa.

CCE also completed its three-year lighting retrofit of 244 of its 338 North American facilities in 2009. This program reduces the company’s energy consumption by approximately 88 million kilowatt hours per year.

However, in 2009, CCE reports that it reduced its energy use by 127 million kilowatt hours thanks its lighting initiatives, which also cut its annual CO2e emissions by approximately 80,000 metric tons.

Designing and building ‘green’ buildings is another way CCE is cutting CO2 emissions. As an example, CCE’s new Coachella, California, facility achieved the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Gold certification in early 2010. CCE’s corporate office buildings in Atlanta, Georgia, are now LEED Core and Shell certified, and another is awaiting certification. The company is also planning work on a LEED Existing Building certification for its facility in Wilsonville, Oregon.

CCE also expanded its North American hybrid fleet by 194 trucks bringing its total to 336, the largest hybrid fleet in North America, according to the company.

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