CRS is the real thing at CCEAugust 2013
Joe Franses is director of corporate responsibility and sustainability (CRS) at Coca-Cola Enterprises. He tells Ethical Performance how he works across the business’s network of experts
Q CSR impacts broadly on a business – how wide is your remit?
It’s a wide remit, which we capture through our sustainability plan; Deliver for Today, Inspire for Tomorrow. The plan sets sustainability targets across seven areas that are central to our business, the environment and society, and sets out a roadmap for how we will reduce the carbon footprint of the drink in your hand by one third, by 2020.
Q What are the key CSR areas for CCE?
We have commitments across seven focus areas and want to demonstrate best practice across all of them, but we believe we can make the biggest difference in two specific areas: Energy and Climate Change and Sustainable Packaging and Recycling. Our commitment to “reduce the carbon footprint of our products by one third by 2020” is central to our plan, particularly as it will require action to reduce carbon emissions across our entire value chain. Our target to “recycle more packaging than we use” is also critical, as our packaging represents just under half of our total value chain carbon impact. Both targets are a significant stretch for our business and we recognise that we won’t be able to find all the answers on our own.
Q You’ve just published your CR & sustainability report in a new format and for the first time online, what triggered this new approach?
The key thing about sustainability reporting is that it needs to be easy to understand, accessible and engaging. As a business, we’re conscious that reporting can also be very technical and data driven, so through our virtual town we’re telling a story that is engaging and enables users to dip in and out of the areas that are of interest to them.
Q What would you say are the main highlights of the report?
In 2012 we made strong progress towards our sustainability plan goals with significant achievements in carbon reduction, water usage and packaging recycling. Achieving an absolute 15% reduction in our operational carbon footprint versus 2007 and reaching our lowest ever water usage ratio have been particularly significant.
Later this year we’re looking forward to sharing the findings of our recently launched research study with the University of Exeter, where we’re working with 20 households in Great Britain and France to observe and learn from at-home recycling behaviours
Q Given your 8-year tenure at CCE, what have been the main changes you’ve seen?
Our sustainability agenda is led from the top, which means that sustainability is genuinely at the heart of day-to-day business and embedded into everyday decision-making. With the launch of our sustainability plan, we acknowledged that our carbon footprint can no longer be considered as resulting only from our core business operations, but instead we must take responsibility for the impact across our wider value chain. Recognition of this throughout the business has required a significant change in mindset and has been highly significant changes.
Q What are the main challenges in CSR & sustainability today?
Sustainability never stands still, and expectations evolve rapidly, as does associated policy. You continuously have to think further outside your business, and consider the impacts related to your entire value chain.
Raising awareness and understanding of sustainability among our employees is also critical, and just recently we trained our procurement professionals on how to embed that mindset into their day-to-day relationships with suppliers. Further to that, over 150 senior leaders have undertaken a specialist sustainability leadership course with the University of Cambridge’s Programme for Sustainability Leadership, to learn more about the sustainability challenges our industry faces.
Q What has been your most successful CSR initiative so far (and why)?
The development of our sustainability plan (Deliver for today; Inspire for tomorrow) has been the most critical initiative that I’ve been involved with. It is central to how we are growing our business, while building a more sustainable future. Within that, it has been really important to acknowledge that we don’t have all of the answers. We will only be able to meet our goals by working in partnership with others and by collaborating to solve not only the challenges facing our business, but the industry at large. rather than the “why” or “what” of corporate responsibility. Indeed, not so much is it relevant or applicable in business but how it should be driven, governed, managed and implemented.
Q What competitive advantage does having an active CSR programme give CCE?
Our sustainability plan is important to our customers, their consumers, and increasingly investors, so isn’t something any business can afford to ignore. It is also of high importance to our own employees who continue to encourage us to move forward on our sustainability journey. For CCE, it is also about ensuring that we are able to reduce our reliance on natural resources. As such, it is central to the long-term commercial success of our business, and the health of the wider economy.
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