Coca-Cola HBC: Circularity at the Heart of Sustainability

Marcel Martin, Chief Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer at Coca-Cola HBC explores how circularity is essential to plastic reduction for CCHBC

Created in Atlanta in 1886, Coca-Cola is consistently ranked as the top soft drink worldwide. The company is supported worldwide by a number of bottling companies, including Coca-Cola HBC.

Coca-Cola HBC is a growth-focused consumer packaged goods (CPG) business. It bottles and sells the beverages of The Coca-Cola Company exclusively in 28 markets. Additionally, it collaborates with top beverage brands like Monster Energy, Edrington, Brown-Forman, and Campari, boasting a robust and diverse portfolio in the industry. 

Based in Switzerland, Coca-Cola HBC has been a pioneer in sustainability for years, initiating its first social responsibility report in 2003 and sustainability commitments in 2011, solidifying its leadership in sustainable beverage practices.

Meet Marcel Martin, Chief Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer of Coca-Cola HBC

Having joined the group in 1993, Marcel Martin has held a multitude of roles including Group Supply Chain Director, Managing Director for Ireland and before that Country General Manager for Nigeria. 

Marcel Martin, Chief Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer at Coca-Cola HBC

“My broad experience on the technical and on the commercial sides is one of the reasons that the board saw my suitability for my current role – I bring a number of capabilities from the wider business,” Marcel says.

In 2022 he took the reins as Chief Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer for Coca-Cola HBC, which has him overseeing sustainability for the group. 

His experience across the company makes him the ideal person to lead its sustainability agenda.

S&P Global has ranked Coca-Cola HBC as the most sustainable beverage company in the world, with the 2023 Indices marking the 13th consecutive year it has featured among the top three performers, and the seventh time that Coca-Cola HBC has been ranked number one.

Marcel sat down with Sustainability Magazine to share some insight into how Coca-Cola HBC embeds sustainability into its purpose. 

Coca-Cola HBC’s sustainability strategy 

Sustainability at Coca-Cola HBC is anchored in external commitments called Mission 2025 and working towards net zero carbon footprint and net positive biodiversity by 2040.

It has seven key pillars in those three areas: 

  • Climate
  • Packaging
  • Water
  • Ingredients
  • Nutrition
  • People and communities
  • Biodiversity

“Obviously the strategy has evolved over the years, but it remains in line with the evolution of requirements and overall progress that has happened in technology,” explains Marcel.

“One of our biggest focuses at the moment is packaging, which allows us to have the biggest impact on our customers, and we’re very proud of the progress we’ve made."

Coca-Cola HBC’s Mission 2025 sustainability commitments reflect this:

  • 100% of its consumer packaging will be recyclable
  • Source 35% of the total PET used from recycled PET and/or PET from renewable material
  • Help collect the equivalent of 75% of primary packaging

Working ahead of time, the team has achieved the first goal that all packaging will be recyclable. Because the company is present in 29 markets, it also faces 29 different sets of regulations which pose challenges for Marcel and the company in terms of collection. 

“Despite differences in terms of policy, environmental policies and requirements, we average around 60% for packaging collection of our products now,” Marcel says.

“We are supporting the introduction of a Deposit Return Schemes in Europe, and already have a number of countries – including Ireland, Romania and Slovakia – where the schemes are active and can be tested to prove they actually work and are feasible.

“By 2026, almost all European countries will be in the deposit return system.”

Alongside the deposit return systems in Europe, Coca-Cola HBC is investing in the creation of collection centres in Africa where the material can be pressed and built into post-consumer collocation bales, to give the plastic a new life.

“We already have five countries in our territory where 100% of the soft drinks products produced use fully recycled PET material,” Marcel explains.

“In Ireland, Italy, Romania, Austria, and Switzerland, as an example, all our plastic bottles you keep in your hands have 100% recycled food grade material. And whilst this sounds easy, in reality it took us years of testing to understand how we can work in a very safe way with recycled material.”

The circularity focus that Coca-Cola HBC is taking is definitely paying off – and we look forward to seeing the company hit the rest of its Mission 2025 targets and beyond! 

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