Supporting our communities & maintaining our focus on sustainability

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Investors | Joe Franses

The COVID-19 crisis has affected millions of lives and its impact continues to be felt by communities worldwide.  At Coca-Cola European Partners, we’ve been a close part of our communities for generations, whether through our local production sites, the drivers who deliver our products or the employees who make and sell our drinks. We’re using those strong local links to help our communities now.   

We are working closely with The Coca-Cola Company and The Coca-Cola Foundation to provide substantial financial aid, $120 million globally, to fund the fight against Coronavirus, channeled through the Red Cross and local NGOs. 

On a local level, we are supporting those on the frontline fighting the virus, and those most affected by it. We are donating products to food banks, medical workers and key workers, providing access to our transport and logistics resources for relief work and supporting the provision of protective equipment.

We have now donated over 415,000 unit cases of drinks in total; to French charities, Restos du Coeur and Secours Populaires, to hospitals, health professionals and NGOs in Spain, and to the German Red Cross.  In France, the team at the Coca-Cola plant in Signes have produced 6 tonnes of hydro-alcoholic gel for use in local hospitals.

We are also working closely with NGOs on the ground to help those in need during the crisis.  For example, in Great Britain we are supporting the work of food redistribution charity, FareShare – helping them to provide the equivalent of nearly two million healthy meals and one million drinks to vulnerable people. We have also joined forces with ‘Neighbourly’ – alongside M&S, Lidl, Aldi and others to provide micro-grants of up to £400 to support affected communities.

Many of our people are also volunteering their time for those most in need in their communities; we are hugely grateful for their contribution. 

This is also a difficult time for many of our customers. A huge number of the restaurants, bars and cafes we serve have had to close temporarily.  We are supporting initiatives across Europe to help these businesses; schemes such as Together, At Home in the Netherlands, which encourages people to support their favourite restaurants by continuing to order for takeaway or delivery. #HORECACOMEBACK is a similar scheme in Belgium and Luxembourg, enabling people to buy vouchers for restaurants while they’re closed.  We’re also taking part in programmes that offer advice and support like United We Stand in Britain, Bartalent Lab in Spain, LOKALFREUN.DE in Germany and j'aime mon bistrot in France. 

As we look ahead to the post-Covid-19 recovery phase, we’ll work with our customers to help them readjust and resume business and we will use our strong local links to support our communities as they recover. 

But while the crisis continues, the climate crisis and the challenges we face around packaging waste and water remain as important, if not more important, than ever.

In recent months, we’ve all been forced to adjust our lives and adopt new behaviours; we’ve travelled less, used digital platforms to connect, and witnessed clearer skies. There is an opportunity for transformation in front of us.  As we emerge from the pandemic, attention will turn to the need for economic recovery and the significant investments required to fuel this recovery.  

Earlier this month, we supported MEP Pascal Canfin’s post Covid-19 “Green Recovery” initiative, because we believe there is a significant opportunity to ensure the recovery is built around green principles and incorporates a transition to a climate-neutral economy.  As a business, we’ve halved the carbon footprint of our core operations over the last ten years and we know that continued decarbonisation, in line with a 1.5 degree carbon reduction pathway, must be at the heart of our long term business strategy.  

Global emissions must fall to net-zero by 2050 if we are to meet the Paris Climate Agreement. Industry collaboration, large-scale investment and progressive legislation will be essential if we are to reach this target. The Covid-19 crisis has changed the world as we know it, but it may be that we can find some positive movement forward on one of the biggest issues facing our world as we emerge from it. 

As we look ahead, we will continue to support all the communities that we serve. We’ll strive for even greater progress in tackling key sustainability topics like climate, water and packaging. We will work hand in hand with others, and do everything we can to make a difference and help to build a better future.

--  Joe Franses, Vice-President, Sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners

Read Joe's LinkedIn article