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Coca-Cola: Online Forum Summary. Real Talk GB – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle…Reimagine: The Future of Packaging 

Coca-Cola Great Britain, in partnership with WRAP, hosted an online event on Thursday 1st December: “Real Talk – an annual forum to unite industry, consumer groups, NGOs and government behind common goals.” 

“This year Tony Juniper CBE will chair high-profile speakers from the Coca-Cola system, McDonald’s, WRAP, WWF, M&S and Behaviour Change to discuss: 

– Packaging – the state of play: What’s working, what isn’t, and opportunities for collaboration 

– The future of packaging: Industry innovation, including reuse and refill 

– Supporting a retail environment that can accommodate new solutions: At scale, and with consumers 

– What more can be done: Moving towards a circular economy” 


“Speakers include: 

– Joe Franses, Vice-President Sustainability, CCEP 

– Catherine David, Director of Collaboration and Change, WRAP 

– Paula Chin, Senior Policy Advisor, WWF UK 

– Nina Prichard, Head of Sustainable and Ethical Sourcing, McDonald’s 

– Lucinda Langton, Head of Sustainability, M&S Food 

– David Hall, Founder and Executive Director, Behaviour Change” 


Notes from the author:  

The consensus is clear from today’s talk; experts in the field of sustainability and packaging, are stating that it is the duty of brands, to collaborate in making bold leaps on the road towards a cleaner and safer planet. There is no question of competition, and no reliance on government or global treaties, although helpful and integral to the cause – it is corporations & brands who must come together in creating the roadmap and ‘blueprints’ to change systems and consumer behaviour. It is giants like Coca-Cola, creating forums like this, and events like Packaging Innovation & Empack, and London Packaging Week, at which we can push for progress and create the connections to make a change.  

The following are transcripts of select quotes and highlights from all speakers and are not verbatim or in full verse. Please see the full discussion here:  https://www.linkedin.com/video/event/urn:li:ugcPost:6990242538439729152/ 

Joe: “The best design solution would be unified. We’re worried about the different schemes across GB – this can be challenging for brands and confusing for consumers.” 

Paula: “It’s very concerning that it’s not going to be a harmonised DRS. Hopefully curb-side [pickup] goes ahead. The International negotiating committee towards the plastic treaty is happening now in Uruguay, what could these negotiations deliver? Harmonisation of DRS policies? Could DRS & other policies become global? Design & reduction needs to be tackled as well – there are lots of opportunities within the treaty. It can lead to a better outcome for both the environment & businesses.” 

Tony: There is an inherent cost in changing the ways of consuming, to what extent will consumers be inheriting that cost at the till?  

Catherine: “As well as people wasting food, they’re always wasting money. Better environmental outcomes don’t always cost more.” 

David: “People’s reactions and relationship to money isn’t always rational. People are used to seeing on a shelf how much something costs – these costs may not translate in refills. It’s a challenge to communicate this. Catherine’s right – intuitively over time, these things should save us money.” 

Tony: “[The idea that moving to renewables is more expensive is a false premise and narrative, which is a barrier towards making progress.]” 

Tony: “Consumer benefits: DRS, you get 20p back, is that the real motivation?” 

Joe: [Comes back to] “Purchase assistance fee, how plastic bottles can come to be recycled because we’re putting a value on those. Research across multiple markets shows that it does make a difference. Even if the 10/20p is not the incentive for one person, it will be for another person who will get that bottle back. Consumers really want to understand what happens to that bottle; they are smart. They probably won’t pay more, but why should they? It’s up to brands to make sure that plastics/bottles can be recycled and that there is a route to recycle.” 

Paula: “I don’t think consumers do get this. They don’t have the headspace to engage and expect businesses to do the thinking. We’re In the weeds of these issues – they want to enjoy & be able to dispose of their products easily. The gap between intention [from surveys] and behaviour is interesting, it’s about making it easier – in order to drive behaviour, and for the systems around them to facilitate. We over-egg the role of the consumer.” 

Catherine: “Let’s create blueprints at a sector and experience level – let’s not wait for EPR, or the global treaty. We know what a lot of those solutions look like, so let’s make it happen at scale.” 

Lucinda: “I think we’re doing the right things, we’re probably just not doing them fast enough.” 

Nina: “Something Paula said around making it easier for consumers – how do we use the collective infrastructure with all brands to make it easier for the consumer – I think collaboration. The blueprints that Catherine talked about. It’s about the collective, making it easier for everyone.” 

Joe: “There are two goals that are audacious. The priority has got to be to do more, and go faster. Too many trials and too many pilots. We’ve got to accelerate and do more otherwise we’re not going to deliver that change that’s required.” 

Paula: “This isn’t about competition, it’s about the climate & existence – let’s collaborate and rise above it.”  

Tony: “It’s about uniting a whole load of things – Policy, power of brands. Then maybe we can get on with it & make things go a little quicker.” 

Stephen Moorhouse, VP & General Manager, GB at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners Coca-Cola, wraps up the panel discussion:  

“My reflection here: Catherine talked about it, it’s a historic challenge of a generation – we need to do this together, incremental moves are good, but we need big bold step change ambitions, it’s an industry first here – not a competitive element. Make it easy & work together on this, not accepting the reasons not to do things – our commitment for the Coca-Cola bottling system is really to make sure that we do that, and influence and lead the discussions, ensuring we do get a UK-wide DRS scheme. It’s important for us to keep this conversation together – to bring people together and make those connections.” 

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