Collaboration between competitors to reduce resource use and waste, and adapt products beyond their intended purpose to extract ‘value beyond profit’, are two visions of how future sustainable manufacturing will look.
The initial findings, in a white paper entitled Sustainable Manufacturing for the Future, have been released by Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) as part of a six-month research partnership with Cranfield University.
The paper considers the current and future landscape of sustainable manufacturing across the food and drink industry in Britain, looking at the challenges and opportunities the industry needs to address to achieve rapid and fundamental change.
A round table event held earlier this year brought together academics and industry experts to discuss the key topics affecting sustainability in the industry today and those anticipated for the future.
The white paper, released in conjunction with CCE’s GB Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report, identifies six key themes that the industry would need to address in the coming years: people, big data, technology, collaboration, value and resilience.
Within the theme of collaboration it suggested “knowledge sharing and collaboration between competitors to reduce resource use and waste will become key”.
It added: “Value will have a fundamental impact on what resources are used – encompassing high standards, convenience, trust and doing good for human kind as well as the environment as consumers become increasingly concerned about the traceability of products and the value of waste. Developing circularity in how a business controls its resources will become prominent. The servitisation and the adaptability of products that can be used beyond their intended purpose to deliver ‘value beyond profit’ will grow.”
The six themes will set the agenda for the project’s next phase of research, when CCE and Cranfield will look to gain a better understanding of each topic, culminating in a second white paper later this year.
CCE’s latest global CSR report has set itself a target of ensuring that 40% of the PET it uses is “recycled PET (rPET) and/or PET from renewable materials”. Speaking at the launch of the CSR report, Joe Franses, CSR director, said this target went “hand in hand with our commitment to recycle more packaging than we use”.
Last year 34% of all the PET purchased by CCE across all its geographies was rPET. Its target incorporating renewable materials refers to the PlantBottle material CCE has started to introduce to markets, which looks and functions like normal PET but is partially derived from sugarcane bagasse extract, the waste from sugarcane.
Franses said: “One of the things we have been doing with our packaging suppliers is ensuring that we are ahead of the curve on recyclability – making sure that all of our bottles and cans are fully recyclable in all of our markets, so compatible with any of the collection and recovery systems that exist.
“Collaboration has been absolutely key to ensuring that the materials we use are both lightweight and recyclable, and that goes for closures and making sure that our labels are not obstructive to the recycling process. We could not have delivered that alone.”
He added that CCE was starting to work in partnership with Defra, and is doing a similar trial in France on how it could help facilitate the collection of its laminate Capri-Sun pouches.