5 June is World Environment Day in which about 150 countries participate. At Coca‑Cola HBC Switzerland (http://ch.coca-colahellenic.com/de/), Monica Lehmann is responsible for ensuring that people think about the environment for not just day of the year, but every year. We chatted to her about her role, what Switzerland is doing to help the environment, and tips on how we can be doing even better.
Hi Monica. Can you tell us what a National Environmental Manager does?
My work is extremely varied. Listing everything I do would take all day. It often focuses on guidelines and certifications. For example, I headed the introduction of the European Water Stewardship standard (see video below) at our sites in Dietlikon and Vals. To conserve resources like energy and water, we follow a large of number of environmental guidelines that we have to create and review on an ongoing basis. But one thing that’s especially important to me personally is working with my colleagues. I often train and advise on how they can implement ecological aspects and topics in their fields.
Where do you get your fascination with the environment from? Was there a specific point in your life when you realised it was your calling?
When I was a student, job prospects in the environment field weren’t as good as they are now, so I didn’t choose Environmental Studies as my major. So that makes me even happier I wound up in this field after all.
I didn’t fully understand my fascination with the environment until my little nephew came to visit. At the time, he was living in a country where conserving resources was not something people were concerned with, but there were regular power outages and access to drinking water wasn’t easy. I explained the Swiss waste sorting and recycling system to him and started doing it at home. That’s when I knew I was on the right path.
Switzerland can only do a small fraction of what is needed to save our planet. Where are our country’s actions exemplary, and where do you think we could do better?
We do well in terms of pollution, including air pollution and noise pollution, where we have accomplished a lot and our flaws are adjusted on an ongoing basis. In terms of resource consumption, though, Switzerland gets more a mixed report card. It would take three planets to keep up with the average Swiss citizen’s consumption. We need to produce more durable products, recycle more and harness technology to combat pollution and other environmental impacts in areas like clean water and air.
When it comes to biodiversity, the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment has indicated that the situation is alarming: one third of are species are threatened or endangered! We need things like more organic food and furniture made from certified wood. Climate change will also not stop at the Swiss border, it’s a reality. Average temperatures are rising, glaciers are melting and we have seen a rise in species that normally live in warmer areas. We absolutely have to reduce emissions. Everyone has to pitch in and do their part!
What is Coca‑Cola HBC Switzerland doing to produce products in harmony with the environment?
There are many great initiatives within the company to reduce environmental impact. Let me give you a few examples; we have set ambitious targets for reducing use of water and energy per liter of beverages produces at our production sites. By 2020, we plan to get all our energy from 100% renewable sources and to use 22% less energy per liter of beverage than we did in 2010. In terms of logistics, we are optimizing routes in various ways, including doing some of our transportation by rail to reduce c02 emissions.
One last question. Can you give us a tip for what we in Switzerland should do to protect the environment?
Think about what you really need. Buy long-lasting products made from sustainable resources. Reduce waste, cut back on long-distance travel and use public transit or a bike to get around.