Winning trust and driving positive change in our communities is a central pillar of our business. We’ve championed sustainability over many years and in 2017 were named the beverage industry leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for the fourth year in a row. We’re extremely proud of this, and also of being named the leader of our super-sector last year.
With 2020 just around the corner, today’s publication of our 2017 Integrated Annual Report provides an opportunity to highlight the progress we’ve made against our ambitious sustainability targets. I’m delighted to report that we’re on track to deliver in ten out of twelve commitments, with some additional work needed on the remaining two.
We’ve already met our 2020 packaging recovery target of 40%, as we’re currently collecting 41% of the total packaging we put into the marketplace for recycling. There can be no let up on this and we’re currently looking into revising the recovery rate as well as developing plans for drastic packaging reduction and increased recovery beyond 2020. These initiatives also support our commitment to reduce packaging by 25% per litre produced, which is currently on schedule, running at 18% by end of 2017, compared to 2010.
In addition, we will continue working with The Coca‑Cola Company to support its World Without Waste global packaging initiative to collect and recycle the equivalent of 100% of the packaging we sell by 2030.
Due to the higher cost of the materials in our geographies, we’re partly behind on our commitment to use 20% recycled PET and plant-based PET materials for our PET packaging. However, we’re stepping up our efforts, especially regarding the use of recycled PET, to ensure that we meet this goal.
Cutting carbon emissions and increasing renewable energy use
We’re among the first companies with approved science-based carbon reduction targets, and we have reduced direct carbon emissions by 42% compared to 2010 (against a target of 50% by 2020) and carbon emissions across our value chain are down by 23% (against a 25% target).
We take an holistic approach to tackling climate change and in addition to cutting emissions we have set targets to ensure that 40% of our total energy use comes from renewable and clean energy and that we reduce total energy consumed per litre of beverage produced by 47% - both by 2020 compared to a 2010 baseline.
34% of our energy currently comes from clean and renewable sources and we’ve invested heavily in measures to reduce overall energy consumption. For example, a €1.4 million investment in waste heat recovery boilers at our Nigerian sites is expected to save over 400 tonnes of carbon emissions per year. At our Istra plant in Russia, a €35,000 investment means that we now burn biogas taken from the water treatment process, rather than natural gas, with expected annual savings of 540 tonnes of CO2.
Another key focus for our business is reducing our water use and our aim of a 30% reduction across our operations is very much in sight. The latest figures show a 21% reduction against our 2010 baseline, so there’s more work to do, but we’re well on the way to achieving our goal. We are also on track with water stewardship certifications for our plants and are confident that we can achieve our 100% target for European Water Stewardship or Alliance for Water Stewardship certification by 2020.
In 2015, we launched Youth Empowered - an initiative that gives young people aged 18 to 30 access to the education, training, connections and support networks that they need to find work. So far more than 21,500 young people have participated in live workshops, training and online sessions with e-learning skills content. We are ambitious to grow this number exponentially in the coming months as we step up our efforts to support young people into the workplace in our markets.
We’re committed to sustainable sourcing. This means ensuring that at least 95% of our key agricultural ingredients are certified against the Coca‑Cola System’s Sustainable Agricultural Guiding Principles (SAGPs) by 2020. We’re on track to achieving this and will continue our efforts as we work towards the 95% figure.
In 2017, we invested €7.4 million in our communities, which is 2% higher than 2016 and is equivalent to 1.3% of our pre-tax profit. This investment is lower than our commitment to spend 2% of our pre-tax profit on communities because our programmes take longer to ramp up compared with the increase in profitability, but it’s certainly something on our radar and I’m looking forward to seeing some great new community initiatives in 2018.
An area of community support that we’re particularly proud of is the investment made by our people. In 2017, our employees volunteered 18,118 hours to community initiatives – ensuring that we are ahead of our 2020 target of 10% of our employees volunteering hours during work time.
Reduction of added sugar
In 2017 we added a new, twelfth commitment. As a member of UNESDA (Union of European Soft Drinks Associations), we’re committed to reducing added sugar in sparkling soft drinks by 10% between 2015 and 2020 in the EU and Switzerland. We’ve already made a big stride towards this with a reduction of 5% by the end of 2017. This was achieved through portfolio evolution, which has brought ‘no sugar’ variants to market, and reformulations of our current drinks to ensure a lower sugar content. We will continue this trend as we develop new products in partnership with The Coca‑Cola Company with low or zero sugar along with smaller serving options.
Sustainability is already built into the way we do business and we will continue to work with customers, partners, suppliers and others to ensure that we meet our 2020 commitments, with specific attention paid to the two that require further work. But time doesn’t stop on 31st December 2020 and we are determined to keep our commitments relevant and focused on our key material issues. As such, we will review them in 2018 to provide a view beyond 2020 to ensure that sustainability is built into our business for the long term.