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Coca-Cola announced its “World Without Waste” vision earlier this year, which focuses on the entire packaging lifecycle – from how packaging is designed and manufactured to how it is recycled and repurposed. We spoke with Coca-Cola’s CEO, James Quincey, about the company’s sustainability campaign and how it manages its global supply chain.

Could you briefly explain what the campaign entails?

Our “World Without Waste” vision includes several goals. One is to help collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one we sell by 2030. We’re also working to make our packaging 100 percent recyclable by 2025.

Have you faced any challenges in actualising the “World Without Waste” campaign or other related campaigns?

In some countries today, collection and recycling of packaging is high, while in others there is still a lot of work to do. Simply put, this is a huge challenge with many moving parts. Our system operates in more than 200 countries and territories, all of which have their own governments, regulatory systems and waste collection and recycling systems. In some parts of the world, the infrastructure doesn’t yet exist to collect and recycle packaging. Even if it did, there might not be a market for the material. So there is much work ahead of us.

Other than this campaign, what other steps is the company taking to educate the consumer and/or other organisations about the importance of maintaining a circular economy?

We can’t do this alone. We need to partner with local communities, our customers, employees, industry and consumers everywhere to help make sure our packaging doesn’t end up where it doesn’t belong. We’re investing in partnerships with NGOs to help educate consumers where to recycle, we’re supporting large-scale infrastructure programs and we’re finding creative ways to use our supply chain.

The Coca-Cola Company has also progressed to become a company known not only in the consumerism market but in industrial as well, i.e.: managing the global supply chain and ensuring that every part of the world has your products within reach. What makes this possible?

While we are a global company, we operate very locally. We are able to do business this way because of the strength of the Coca-Cola system, which includes our company and our nearly 250 bottling partners worldwide. Most of our products are made in the same geographic region in which they are sold, from the sourcing of ingredients to bottling.

What automation system is in place to ensure the company is more efficient in its processes?

There are many opportunities for automation within different parts of our business. One example is a storage and distribution centre opened by Coca-Cola Singapore in 2017. It is Singapore’s first warehouse with an automated storage and retrieval system built on top of loading and unloading bays. Cambodia Beverage Company Ltd. opened a bottling facility in late 2016 with Leadership in Energy and Environment Design – or LEED – international certification, including features such as rainwater harvesting, lighting automation, ionised air rinsing and low-energy conveyor motors. And we just opened another LEED-certified plant in Kunming, China, in partnership with Swire Group. We dedicated that plant on June 15 of this year.

What are your thoughts on blockchain and do you see it as part of The Coca-Cola Company’s strategy in the future?

Yes, blockchain technology has the potential to create more certainty in our supply chain. For instance, we are exploring how to use it to ensure the purity of ingredients, to work with our suppliers on their standards and best practices and even increase transparency and efficiency of the verification process related to labour policies within our supply chain.

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