By 2030, all beverage packaging released to the market by Coca-Cola system companies is to be collected and recycled. Half of the composition of the new bottles will also come from recycling. This is the axis of the „World Without Waste” initiative announced in Davos in January 2018. „(„Waste Free World”).
The project started in 2018. But Coca-Cola has been taking care of the ecology for a long time.
“We are not only the leader on the non-alcoholic beverages market in Poland, but we also belong to the group of socially responsible companies. Sustainable development is part of our company’s DNA, and its implementation begins with specific, publicly announced and measurable commitments,” explains Jaak Mikkel, head of Coca-Cola HBC Poland.
“In September this year, we announced our „2025 Sustainability Targets”, which are a continuation of our long-term strategy to reduce environmental impact, develop our portfolio by e.g. reducing the calorific value of our products or the impact on the communities in which we operate. As for the environment, we reduce CO2 emissions from year to year, reduce water consumption per litre of product and encourage our business partners to do the same,” adds Jaak Mikkel.
Water in the first place
On a global scale, the company’s water consumption is expected to fall by a further 20 percent over the next 12 years, particularly in areas with water scarcity. In order to achieve these goals, Coca-Cola HBC Polska has undertaken to further reduce water consumption and take care of complete wastewater treatment, and to cooperate with suppliers in order to obtain information on water consumption related to the acquisition of agricultural products (e.g. sugar), among other things.
The technology, e.g. changes in the process of can washing at the Staniątki plant, one of Coca-Cola’s three production plants in Poland, is helpful here. A water washer has been replaced with an ionized air washer, which will save 7.7 thousand cubic metres of water annually.
On the other hand, a special filter has been installed in Radzymin, which allows for full recovery of water from washing the system. As a result, 30,000 cubic metres of water can be saved annually. Another innovative solution is the use of treated wastewater for cooling towers in a cogeneration plant (CHP). As a result, the demand for urban water used in the cooling system has been reduced by 60,000 cubic metres per year.
At Staniątki, 75% of the water from PET bottle rinsing is recovered. This saves 25,000 cubic metres per year.
The effects are already visible. In 2013, an average of 2.25 litres of water was used to produce 1 litre of beverage. This year’s target is to reduce water consumption per litre of beverage to 1.76 litres.
Less carbon dioxide
The concern also wants the scale of direct emissions to be reduced by 30 percent by 2025. How does it want to achieve this? First of all, by reducing energy consumption in production plants, as well as by implementing technologies based on alternative and renewable energy sources, such as trigeneration systems (CHP) and solar panels.
Activities have not started today and are already visible. In 2014, 71.2 g of CO2 was emitted during the production of 1 litre of beverage. Last year it was much less: 43.2 g CO2, which was even better than the target.
How was this possible? The last investment at the Radzymin plant was of key importance. The assembly of a new generation PET granulate gas dehumidifiers was carried out on four production lines. This reduced annual CO2 emissions by as much as 1,282.1 tonnes.
On the other hand, at the plant in Staniątki near Kraków, the compressor room and the process of reducing the high pressure of blowing PET bottles for various formats produced at the plant were modernised, which resulted in savings in electricity consumption of 150,000 kWh/year. The plant also introduced an energy-efficient cooling system for PET blowers, an energy-efficient blower in the sewage treatment plant and reduced the speed of ventilation fans in the production lines when they were switched off.
However, the most important objective in the coming years is to collect and recycle 75% of consumer packaging and 100% of consumer packaging in 2030.
The company’s long-term plans also assume that in 2025, the share of recycled or renewable material will account for 35% of new packaging. This is to be done by co-creating a new waste management system and undertaking activities aimed at significantly increasing the collection and recycling of packaging waste.
“A very important part of our sustainability strategy is the management of packaging waste from our products. We are aware of the fact that pollution caused by waste, especially plastic waste after consumption, is an increasingly noticeable civilization problem,” says Jaak Mikkel.
“Between 2001 and 2016 we reduced the weight of our plastic packaging by 45%, so this is not a new challenge for us. As an industry leader, we also want to be a leader in finding solutions to this problem. That is why we were the first in the world, in January this year, to have announced such ambitious aspirations in the field of waste management. We set the direction and we are convinced that other companies will follow in our footsteps,” stresses the head of Coca-Cola HBC Poland.
The Coca-Cola system is therefore working on solutions consistent with the concept of closed-loop management, i.e. aimed at implementing a closed-loop packaging cycle without harming the environment.
The implementation of these intentions is supported by the nationwide waste management projects launched in 2018. As part of the „Activities with ImPET” campaign, conducted jointly with three other leading beverage producers, the collection and recycling of PET packaging in Poland will be increased by 10% compared to 2016.
In turn, the „rePETa” action enriched the waste management infrastructure of 20 municipalities with approx. 600 additional containers for plastics collection. An important element of both actions is educating the inhabitants in the field of proper waste segregation and showing them what can be achieved through recycling.
It is also worth mentioning that Coca-Cola HBC Polska was the first beverage producer in the country using the so-called rPET, i.e. raw material from PET bottles recycling, for the production of new bottles. Aluminium cans, on the other hand, are already in 50 percent composed of recycled material.