Dusan Stojankic is Coca-Cola’s VP of Franchise Operations, Great Britain & Ireland.
If we are to adapt to the future ahead, deliver the total system change required, and transition to a circular economy, we need to do more, and do it faster.
That was the key outcome of Coca-Cola’s annual forum, Real Talk, which discussed charting a practical policy path to reduced plastic waste via the delivery of a GB-wide Deposit Returns Scheme (DRS). With such an ambitious goal, a heavyweight panel – including Dr Tony Juniper CBE, WWF, McDonald’s, M&S, and Behaviour Change – came together.
Held in partnership with packaging leaders WRAP, panellists discussed the importance of government, industry and third-sector collaboration to help design a circular economy and create the right kind of retail environment to speed up and deliver sustainable packaging on a global scale.
The discussion focussed on the importance of strong partnerships delivering on Coca-Cola’s vision to achieve a World Without Waste – which will see the company help to collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one sold by 2030. System-level change starts with collaboration and is only made possible by widening the conversation across industry.
That’s because the burden cannot fall on consumers alone, especially in times of financial hardship. While their behaviour will drive the step-change required, industry must work together to help everyone make good choices.
Coca-Cola is driving collective action and stepping up to ensure that Coca-Cola packaging is as sustainable as possible. In Great Britain, all Coca-Cola bottles are 100 per cent recyclable and 500ml bottles (excluding label and cap) are made from 100 per cent recycled plastic content (rPET) – saving 29,000 tonnes of virgin plastic production each year.
Together with bottling partner CCEP, sustainable packaging innovation is embedded in the Coca-Cola system conducts business. Coca-Cola was the first soft drinks company in the UK to introduce attached caps and set up the UK’s first bottle-to-bottle recycling facility.
However, making containers out of recycled materials is just the start of the journey. Coca-Cola’s ambition is to create an action-based circular economy and increase the availability of food-grade recycled plastic locally available in the UK.
To achieve this, more of the plastic put onto the market needs to be collected. That’s why Coca-Cola supports the introduction of an integrated, nationwide DRS to collect more bottles and more high-quality recycled plastic, which can ultimately be converted into new bottles.
Only an interoperable scheme across England, Scotland, and Wales can reduce litter and deliver maximum consumer take-up. This will also ensure the integrity of UK supply chains across the four nations and reduce fraud, minimising administration costs at an exceptionally challenging time for small businesses.
Backed by over 70 per cent of the public, a DRS designed in an integrated fashion can reach over 90 per cent in collection uptake and reduce litter significantly. Recycling rates are stagnating, and a new approach is needed.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution but focus must be given to practical, priority actions that can make a tangible difference to our public and green spaces now. That starts with a unified DRS scheme. And that starts with more real conversations.
As the UK looks to become a global leader in recyclability to build a circular economy, it is vital industry and policymakers – across all four nations – work in lock-step to achieve this critical goal, now.