Coca-Cola HBC Romania started publishing sustainability reports before they became mandatory. Business Review sat down with Alice Nichita, Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Director, to talk about the actions the company is taking as a result of its commitment to a sustainable future.
By Anda Sebesi
What are the main issues being brought to light by the 8th edition of Coca-Cola HBC Romania’s sustainability report?
Our 2021 Sustainability Report shows the concrete steps we have taken in key areas, such as reducing resource consumption and CO2 emissions, responsible packaging, supporting people and communities. Above all, the report stands as proof of our commitment to leaving a better world #AfterUs. This is our eighth sustainability report, as we started reporting on this topic before the European directive made it mandatory.
To summarise our progress, we have managed to reduce water intensity in the production process by more than 6 % compared to 2017. We have reduced carbon emissions from direct operations by switching to 100 percent clean and renewable electricity and by using rPET in our packaging. We’ve replaced coolers supplied to customers with energy-efficient ones, reaching 42 % energy-efficient coolers in 2021. We continue to invest in training and development for our people and to provide equal opportunities for all of them, in an inclusive work environment.
In 2021, through our After Us platform, we continued to support vulnerable groups and youth, with our programmes reaching over 8,000 beneficiaries. We got over 15,000 consumers involved in our public awareness campaigns, which were aimed at correctly separating and collecting recyclable waste. Moreover, through the Big Belly network of smart containers we installed in Bucharest, we supported the collection of 34 tons of recyclable waste.
Coca-Cola HBC obtained the Alliance for Water Stewardship certification for all its production facilities in Romania, beco-ming the sole beverage manufacturer on the local market to hold this type of certification. What does it mean for the company, its consumers, and the local economy?
Water is the main ingredient in our drinks, and access to water is fundamental in our production activity. At the same time, it is a vital resource for communities. We therefore carefully monitor consumption, and our strategy sets clear targets for reducing water consumption and treating wastewater in our production processes. The AWS certification confirms our commitment to responsible water use and motivates us to further invest and innovate, attaining better results every year.
Last year, Coca-Cola HBC adopted a Net Zero target by 2040, which refers to carbon emissions across its entire value chain. What are the key measures the company will take, both in Romania and elsewhere, to achieve this goal?
In 2021, the Group made a commitment to reduce emissions across its entire value chain to net zero by 2040. It is the final destination of a journey that started many years ago. At the group level as well as locally, we are implementing a series of initiatives that will help us meet our ambitious target. In Romania, these include increased use of rPET, with lower carbon emissions, taking important steps towards a circular approach, switching to 100 percent clean and renewable electricity, providing our customers with energy efficient coolers, and transitioning to transport solutions with reduced or zero carbon emissions through our “Green Fleet” programme.
Only by working together with customers, partners, suppliers, authorities, and local communities can we have a greater impact and contribute to a better world.
What can you tell us about the innovations brought by Coca-Cola HBC in terms of the green packaging of its portfolio of soft drinks in Romania?
All our packages are 100 percent recyclable and 20 percent of our PET portfolio, representing the entire mineral water portfolio, is bottled in rPET. Moreover, in 2021, we introduced KeelClip™, an innovative, minimalist paperboard packaging solution to replace plastic wrap on our multipack cans with recyclable, biodegradable cardboard. We are currently making an investment of over EUR 10 million in our Ploiesti plant, which will allow us to become the first local soft drinks company to produce rPET in-house and will support our ambition to expand our rPET packaging portfolio. In addition, as the leader of the soft drinks industry, we are offering our full support for the successful implementation of the Deposit-Return System, the bi-ggest circular economy project in Romania.