On the long road to sustainability

As big business reduces its waste, the long-term goal is to encourage our consumers to do likewise

Sanjay%20Guha%2C%20Coca-Cola%20GB%20and%20IrelandSustainability lies at the heart of the challenges that businesses face today as Marketing Week’s recent green issue confirmed. Business recognises that safeguarding our planet is not a matter of altruism but simple self-interest. For without sustainable communities, there can be no sustainable business.

And for companies like Coca-Cola with our global reach, there is a special responsibility to address consumer concerns. The MW/YouGov marketers poll in the magazine’s green issue showed the discrepancies between brands thought to have the best green reputations, as opposed to those with the worst (MW March 27). Successful brands are not just about quality or price but also about aspirations and values. Consumers expect us to show leadership.

We are working hard to respond to these expectations. I don’t claim we have all the answers or have yet done enough. But sustainability and responsibility now influence everything we do at Coca-Cola.

We have set ourselves the global goal of returning or replacing every drop of water we use in our drinks and their production. We have pledged to grow our business without adding to the carbon in our atmosphere and are developing low-energy and HFC-free refrigeration. And we are stepping up our efforts to recycle and reduce the packaging we produce.

There is more to do but I am confident that Coca-Cola will meet our responsibilities and operate in a sustainable manner. The bigger prize, however, is to help inspire and encourage our consumers to do the same – which is where we must strengthen our efforts.

We are proud that Coca-Cola is such a popular drink in the UK. But this success inevitably makes us one of the biggest users of packaging in the UK. There is little sense in meeting our own recycling targets if we ignore the impact this packaging has on the environment once it has left our hands.

We have begun to address this challenge. Every bottle or can of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero sold in the UK carries a Recycle Now message and we will roll out the initiative across all our brands. We are also working with partners to motivate consumers to recycle through schemes such as Talent from Trash – our Football League programme encouraging fans to recycle in exchange for money for new youth players – that was run last year.

But we realise that we are just at the start of this journey. The challenge for us all now is to think innovatively – as individual companies, together as industries, and in partnership with Government and councils – about how we can to do more to use our brands to help change people’s attitudes and behaviour.

We need to raise our sights and raise our game. We have the expertise and experience. We now have to demonstrate the motivation.

Sanjay Guha, President, Coca-Cola GB & Ireland

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