Priscilla Urquhart, public affairs and communications manager at Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages, talks to ReSource about how the company champions sustainability at its facilities and among the community.
- Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages recently held a beach clean-up in Cape Town for the Easter holidays. Why did you engage in this activity, who was involved and how did you ensure the impacts of the clean-up would be lasting?
PU: The Easter holiday beach clean-up campaign is a follow-up to the very successful New Year’s beach clean-up that we held; we cleared Strand and Camps Bay beaches of a whopping 3,300 kg of rubbish after the New Year festivities.
Through these beach clean-ups, we want people to be conscious about the environment and to be aware of their surroundings. We decided to extend it all the way from Hermanus to Saldanha Bay and get communities actively involved in caring for the environment, specifically the Cape’s beaches.
We saw that the beaches are already quite clean – it is fantastic to see how environmentally conscious some community members are.
- Who were your partners involved in the clean-up, and how were they persuaded to come on board?
PU: Our main call to action was on our Facebook page, where we encouraged communities to take part. Our activation partner, Perfect Solutions, drove the clean-ups. The events have been endorsed by local municipalities, and the mayor of the Overstrand Municipality, Alderman Rudolph Smith,also joined us at Grotto Beach in Hermanus with some of his executive mayoral team.
3. Why did Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages choose a beach clean-up specifically?
PU: Sustainability is a key focus at Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages and we want to instil this mantra in the communities in which we operate as well. It is everyone’s responsibility to take care of the environment so that future generations can also enjoy its splendour.
- What other internal activities does the company engage in to minimise its environmental footprint and conserve precious resources like water and electricity?
PU: There are various activities we engage in to reduce water and energy consumption. We’re proud to have almost halved our energy use at our Parow-based manufacturing plant since 2008. Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages’ warehouse and production areas have energy-saving lights that automatically switch off if there is enough natural daylight.
We also use ionised air to rinse PET plastic and recover the water used in the filter backwash process and bottle rinsing. Other plant-wide measures such as foot-operated hand-wash basins, water-saving nozzles on hoses, and new crate-washing technology have added to the significant reduction in water usage at Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages.
- What is your recycling rate at your factories and how do you extend Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages’ take on waste reuse, reduction and recycling to the broader communities in which you operate?
PU: We have achieved significant results in reduced water and electricity consumption, and have a 97.3% recycling rate at our factory. It is not something new for us; between 2004 and 2015, we halved our water-use ratio and reduced the effluent-use ratio at our plant by 68%. These water savings are the result of targeted adaptions to our processes that make production more sustainable.
When the water restrictions in Cape Town came into effect, we also stopped washing all company vehicles, including trucks.
In terms of the communities in which we operate, we hosted a highly successful Recycle Race at local schools last year to encourage recycling from an early age. Another exciting water-saving project was for the Philippi Children’s Centre, an Early Childhood Development Centre in Philippi, Cape Town. With the help of the Rotary Club of Newlands, we installed a sewage treatment plant, which shows a daily saving of at least 4,500 litres.
Another project we supported was the clearing and rehabilitation of a section of the Diep River in Cape Town, to remove aquatic alien invasive plants; this was as a partnership between The Coca-Cola Foundation, WESSA and the City of Cape Town. Water is one of the main resources needed to produce our products. We thereforeappreciate the importance of taking responsibility for keeping our waterways clean and devoid of invasive alien plant species. For this reason, Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages was on board as a supporter of this project.
- Your water-saving initiatives are many and the results you’ve achieved are impressive. How are you benchmarking your water-saving achievements and why have you made this such a significant focus area within your organisation?
PU: As we deal with a lot of water, water-saving initiatives are not only necessary but our responsibility.
We have achieved a four-star rating in the City of Cape Town’s water ratings system. The purpose of the ratings is to have a recognised system that shows and measures water resource conservation in industry, to recognise industrial users who are meeting and exceeding the legal requirements, and to promote on-site water management.
Only three companies achieved a five-star rating. We are proud that Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages was awarded a four-star rating as this means that we are on the right track towards a sustainable and environmentally friendly water management system, and we are looking forward to finding ways to achieve a five-star rating this year.
- Can you reveal any details about future initiatives to further contribute towards Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages’ environmental sustainability?
PU: In order to operate sustainably into the future, we are constantly looking at how to refine our processes to be as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible. For Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages, it is not just about refreshing communities. Being a responsible corporate citizen and investing our efforts and resources back into the communities in which we operate and that support the company, is equally important.