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Coca‑Cola recycles 10.5 million green bottles as part of London 2012 sustainability pledge

Coca‑Cola’s sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games sets an inspirational sustainability standard for future sporting events.

The Coca‑Cola System in Great Britain (‘Coca‑Cola’), has today announced that it has recycled 10.5 million bottles collected from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, returning them to GB shelves as part of new bottles. This will result in 42 million bottles, each containing 25% rPET. The success of this large‑scale bottle-to-bottle recycling process is part of Coca-Cola’s commitment to helping the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) deliver the most sustainable Games possible.

The opening of Continuum Recycling, Coca‑Cola Enterprises’ new£15 million joint venture recycling facility with ECO Plastics, allowed over 10.5 million clear plastic bottles from London 2012 venues to be recycled within just six weeks of disposal, saving an estimated 310 tonnes of carbon.

During the Games, Coca‑Cola sought to educate people about the speed with which a plastic bottle could now be turned into a brand new bottle in this country. Nielsen research commissioned by Coca‑Cola shows that 70 per cent of visitors surveyed at London 2012 said, on learning this, they would now be more likely to recycle at home.

The results of Coca‑Cola’s most sustainable sponsorship activation to date have been published in a new report authored by Good Business, a leading sustainability strategy consultancy. It sets out a number of world‑class sustainability initiatives across waste, climate change and health & wellness, delivered in partnership with organisations including WWF and WRAP, that Coca‑Cola hopes will inspire future events organisers.

Key sustainability achievements delivered as part of Coca‑Cola’s sponsorship of London 2012 include:

Coca‑Cola worked with LOCOG and WRAP to design an innovative waste system that looked at the shape, style and position of recycling bins at London 2012 venues, a model which will be passed to the organisers of future large events.

At all London 2012 venues, Coca‑Cola products were served in 100% recyclable plastic bottles that contained up to 25% recycled content (rPET).

Investment in Continuum Recycling, a state‑of‑the‑art low carbon warehouse facility, and 14 new biogas trucks that will be incorporated into Coca-Cola’s supply chain.

Coca‑Cola is the first major corporation to be independently verified as applying the new ISO standard for sustainable event management.

Adopting pioneering carbon footprinting methodology enabled Coca‑Cola to cut the carbon footprint of its distribution system at the Games by a third.

Alongside initiatives that delivered positive benefits for the environment, Coca‑Cola used London 2012 to inspire people to develop more active and healthy lifestyles. Coca‑Cola’s three‑year partnership with national grassroots sports charity StreetGames has brought sport to 110,000 young people around the UK. Coca-Cola has also been a supporter of Special Olympics GB for 34 years and to coincide with London 2012, helped the expansion of the Unified Sports programme, which brings together those with and without intellectual disabilities to play sport on the same team.

Coca‑Cola offered consumers the widest range of drinks ever provided at an Olympic and Paralympic Games. More than 70% of the drinks Coca‑Cola served at London 2012 venues were juice, water or low‑or-no calorie options and more than 95% were manufactured in GB. Coca-Cola’s menu boards at London 2012 venues carried Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) information – as did all bottles of sparkling soft drinks, Powerade and Glaceau Vitaminwater – enabling visitors to make informed choices about what they drank.

Jon Woods, General Manager, Coca‑Cola Great Britain & Ireland, said:

“As the longest, continuous sponsor of the Olympic Movement, we knew that our sponsorship provided a one‑off opportunity to accelerate many of our sustainability initiatives here in Great Britain. But we wanted to go even further than that and use London 2012 to encourage our suppliers, our customers and the people who enjoy our products to join us in adopting more sustainable behaviours.

“Investing in sporting opportunities for young people, offering the widest range of drinks we have ever offered at an Olympic and Paralympic Games and developing a best practice waste and recycling system all contributed to making London 2012 our most sustainable sponsorship activation ever. We’ve achieved a great deal with our partners and the benefits from these investments will continue to make a positive difference to our consumers and the communities we serve long after the Games are over.”

Simon Baldry, Managing Director of Coca‑Cola Enterprises in GB, said: “We always saw the Games as an important catalyst for our ongoing efforts to build a low carbon, zero waste business here in GB. I’m delighted that through Continuum Recycling we have been able to recycle enough material from Olympic venues to use in 42 million new PET bottles within just six weeks of people throwing them away. This is an important milestone and shows we are serious about setting the industry standard for sustainable packaging in this country.”

David Nussbaum, CEO, WWF UK, said: “The work Coca‑Cola has undertaken to reduce its impact at the Games, and the lengths to which it has gone to use the power of its brand to engage others and ensure its actions have a lasting impact is to be commended and sets a standard for future corporate sponsorship of international events.”

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