2 minutes of your time: Nick Brown

Nick Brown
Kensitas Club April 2021 week one section banner

Coca-Cola European Partners launched a hugely ambitious sustainability strategy last year, aiming to ensure ultimately that none of its packaging ends up as litter. Head of Sustainability Nick Brown discusses how the company is progressing towards that goal.


Nick Brown is Head of Sustainability for Coca-Cola European Partners in the UK, leading the company’s work on Sustainable Packaging, Community Programmes, Water stewardship, Energy & Climate Change and Sustainable Agriculture.

Nick has had a number of roles in Operational & Commercial functions at CCEP, driving change and innovation through the organisation.

Outside of work Nick is a father of three young boys, a Scout Leader and keen club cyclist when time allows.

CCEP unveiled its new sustainable strategy last summer. What were your key ambitions?
Our current strategy looks to ensure all our packaging is recovered and none of it ends up as litter or in the oceans. We believe it will be achieved by acting in three key areas:

Firstly, we will ensure our packaging is as sustainable as possible. All our cans and bottles are 100% recyclable and our plastic bottles contain 25% recycled material (rPET). We have also been reducing the amount of material used in our bottles, as well as using more recycled or renewable materials, such as PlantBottle.

Secondly, the strength of our brands means we play an important role when it comes to encouraging consumers to recycle their bottles through our marketing, on-pack messaging and third-party collaborations.

Thirdly, we’re continuing our work with other industry leaders and Government bodies to support the growth of the circular economy.

A year down the line, are you happy with the progress made so far?
We are pleased with our progress overall, but we recognise we have more to do. We are focussing on the areas in which we can make the biggest impact. For example, we’re starting to move all our large PET bottles to 40% rPET this year. As well as this, we recently started putting ‘please recycle this bottle’ messaging on bottle closures.

WHAT IS PlantBottle? Sounds intriguing.
PlantBottle is a fully recyclable strong plastic made partially from plants. It’s produced using sugar cane residue instead of petroleum, and accounts for 30% of the plastic used in all Glacéau smartwater and AdeZ bottles.

You have also started the rollout of live DRS (deposit return scheme) machines. How is that going?
We launched a partnership with Merlin Entertainments to offer discounts to some of its attractions in exchange for empty plastic bottles. The machines accept any bottle, not just our brands. So far the initiative has been well received by consumers and uptake has been high.

How does CCEP see DRS developing in convenience in Scotland?
We believe that independent retailers are uniquely positioned to support DRS and can help with local recycling solutions as long as the proposed scheme works well for all parties involved.

How have you been communicating these developments to consumers?
We’re using our marketing reach and the power of our brands to deliver recycling messaging directly to mainstream audiences. Last year we reached 27 million consumers with a recycling advert. Around half a billion packs a year now feature recycling messaging. For Recycle Week, we launched a new campaign called ‘#Coke Dunks’ and TV advert entitled ‘Across the Tracks’ to encourage more consumers to recycle.

And you support a number of community initiatives as part of this?
We have always supported local initiatives and aim to make a positive contribution in the communities where we operate in. We have also been working with a variety of partners that run community initiatives including Keep Scotland Beautiful.

Most recently CCEP celebrated its 40th anniversary of sponsoring Special Olympics GB.

That’s a lot of work completed so far. What lies ahead as part of the strategy?
We’ll continue to work towards achieving all our goals, including the move to 50% rPET by 2020. We’re also supporting the Zero Waste Scotland DRS consultation to see how we can use this once-in-a-lifetime chance to design a scheme that will work for many years to come.

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