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"CO₂ Optimised" certification: Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland breaking new ground in the beverage industry

In order to be the first company in the beverage industry to obtain the “CO2 Optimised” certification from Swiss Climate, Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland prepared a comprehensive CO2 footprint that included everything from ingredients to packaging disposal and defined targeted initiatives to reduce emissions on this basis. The certification represents an important step in the company’s long-term commitment to protecting the climate. 

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To record all CO2 emissions along the entire value chain, a thorough examination of suppliers, transport, refrigeration and waste disposal was undertaken. This resulted in a holistic and certified CO2 footprint – both for the company with its production in Switzerland and for the individual beverages.

The CO2 footprint provided the basis for defining the right priorities and measures for reducing CO2, which was also required for certification by Swiss Climate and is important for achieving the 2030 climate targets.

Analysis with surprising moments along the way

Figuring out the actual facts was an elaborate but revealing phase of the certification process. Roughly 35 people were involved in drawing up the CO2 footprint, including not only the internal sustainability officers but also suppliers and service providers of Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland. This provided a wealth of valuable insights and numerous ideas on how the company can further reduce CO2 emissions in a targeted manner.

As part of its sustainability strategy, Coca-Cola Switzerland converted 80% of its vehicle fleet to run on natural gas, saving around 25% of CO₂ emissions each year in this way.

A historic step was taken in the summer of 2019. VALSER became the first Swiss mineral water company to roll out PET bottles made of 100% recycled material (rPET). Compared to bottles made of new PET, which contain no recycled material at all, CO₂ emissions are reduced by up to 75%. On this basis, VALSER will be able to reduce its emissions by some 2,000 tonnes of CO₂ in 2020. Thanks in part to this success, VALSER Mineralquellen was awarded a certificate as a climate-neutral company. Just recently, the proportion of recycled material in Coca-Cola’s 450-millilitre bottle was increased to 55% and the amount of packaging material was reduce by 14%, corresponding to an annual reduction of 510 tonnes of PET.

VALSER even achieved a world premiere by using Climeworks’ technology, with which CO₂ can be extracted from the air and processed for use in beverages. Coca‑Cola HBC Switzerland is working with the Swiss ETH spin-off company to use its pioneering technology in the beverage industry for the first time.

Our bottling plants derive 100% of their power from renewable sources. In Vals, for example, we use the roof of the production building for solar cells.

The next milestone on the horizon

Following certification as “CO2 Optimised”, Coca-Cola HBC is now looking to achieve the next milestone. The CO2 footprint assessment is the basis for developing Science-Based Targets (SBTs), which the company intends to define and implement as binding key performance figures in the coming year. The assessment thus laid an important foundation for continuing make a significant contribution to protecting the climate.

Four questions for Monica Lehmann, National Environment Manager at Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland

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Why is the certification as “CO2 Optimised” by Swiss Climate a milestone for Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland?

This certification means that we have a certified CO2 footprint and a binding action plan, enabling us to target our emission sources even more effectively and define ambitious climate targets.

What were the greatest challenges in achieving certification?

The assessment of our emissions was more comprehensive than ever before, ranging from ingredients to disposal by consumers, so we had to collect a lot of data in a short period of time and also work with new partners. One example of this was tabulating all the trips made by all our employees in connection with their work, from daily commuting to business trips.

How were you able to keep track of everything given this information overload?

It took a lot of teamwork. I was able to work with around 35 colleagues from the entire value chain, who provided great support in terms of expertise and enthusiasm. It was a lot of fun and truly surprising at times.

What is the way forward for sustainability now that the certification is done?

The certified CO2 footprint is critical for the development of the “Science-Based Targets” (SBTs) for Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland in the coming year. By the start of 2022, we want to have SBTs defined through 2030 and be able to use them as benchmarks going forward.