The festive season may be in full swing, but as well as counting down the 12 days of Christmas, I’ve also had a keen eye on the COP28 conference, which has just closed its doors for this year.
Whilst the COP28 deal does represent progress – for the first time recognising the need to “transition away” from fossil fuels - perhaps the most important reference is the need to “accelerate action” in this critical decade.
The shift from ‘fossil to clean’ is unstoppable – but it’s a clear reminder of the urgency of the situation we face.
There is also a clear demand among businesses for clearer policy guidance to give them certainty and guiderails – and a need among everybody to do much more, much faster.
We’re seeing companies being much bolder with their ambitions. Businesses are crying out for tighter legislation on renewables, packaging and net zero. It’s why Coca-Cola Europacific Partners joined 200+ companies in signing the recent We Mean Business Coalition Fossil to Clean letter. This open letter highlighted the urgent need for supportive policies to enable the many clean energy solutions so many businesses are ready to deploy.
But needs are yet to be met.
I recently had the opportunity to take part in Business Green’s Net Zero Festival, which saw speakers from WRAP, Tetra Pak and Again come together to talk all things circular economy and where the need for greater legislative intervention was echoed once again.
Even as a global market leader, while we are taking action, it is impossible for one company to move the dial on net zero alone. We know government and industries are trying to bring about systemic change in the world, the key to success in my view, involves competitors across markets and categories working together, as well as receiving ongoing guidance from government.
At Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP), we’ve set two really ambitious targets: a 30% reduction in absolute emissions by 2030 (against a 2019 baseline) and reaching net zero by 2040. To make this happen, we continually invest in our business and seek out new technologies and products to help us meet our goals.
For example, in Great Britain, we’re transporting products by rail to reduce miles on the road, powering around two-thirds of our haulage with hydro-treated vegetable oils, and investing in materials-handling equipment, including switching gas-powered forklift trucks to lithium-ion battery-powered alternatives.
We’ve also made significant changes to our packaging, we use 100% recycled plastic – excluding caps and labels – in all our 500ml or smaller bottles sold in GB. Most recently we have rolled out attached caps on our plastic bottles across our entire portfolio of brands to boost collection, recycling and help prevent litter.
We’re pleased with the progress we’ve made here so far, and we know we have much more to do but we need collective action to accelerate the rate of change. As a large organisation, we are committed to leading from the front, but policy has a crucial part to play in shaping the landscape. For example, a well-designed, GB interoperable deposit return scheme (DRS), will help us to unlock more recycled content in our packaging. We know it works as we’ve seen in other markets. We just need the Governments of England, Scotland and Wales to work together to make it happen.
Continuing to test and trial new innovations, working together with industry peers, and – crucially – government will help us make decisions and take the right actions that will ultimately stand the test of time.