I was honored to participate in this year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions (AMNC) – a gathering of over 1,500 participants across government, civil society and the private sector – in Tianjin, China. Also known as “Summer Davos”, my conversations here were engaging and far-ranging. I was inspired by my fellow participants and how we are collectively working to drive innovation, sustainability and large-scale transformations for the benefit of communities around the world.
I was especially pleased to participate as a panelist in a session at the AMNC on how systemic changes, strategic shifts and emerging technologies are transforming the future of consumption. I believe central to this transformation is adopting a Circular Economy mindset.
Turning Waste Into Value
Unlike under the traditional linear economy of “take-make-waste”,
The circular economy aims to reuse, recycle and replenish the things we love the best while keeping their quality, which is a commendable and smart concept. Turning waste into value is an approach
Coca-Cola’s business is only as sustainable as the communities we serve and, therefore, sustainability is the core of our operations. This has led to a focus on areas that present the most opportunities for supporting a circular economy: packaging, water resources and sustainable agriculture.
We are reinventing our packaging, and I am proud to say that to date we have distributed more than 40 billion PlantBottle™ packages in more than 40 countries worldwide.
Changing Lives With Sustainability
Coca-Cola also has launched initiatives such as EKOCYCLE™ that have recycled PET bottles into sheets, mobile phone chargers, iPad covers, notebooks and sustainable jewelry that are produced by local communities in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Apart from significantly reducing waste and the impact on the environment, through recycling initiatives coupled with the company’s 5by20 women’s economic empowerment initiative,
Women around the world use our recyclable packaging to create unique handmade items such as handbags, jewelry, home décor and more. Our 5by20 initiative complements these efforts by providing access to business skills training, finance, mentors and peer networks. With increased income, women can invest in themselves and their communities.
The new way of circular thinking also extends to natural resources, the most important of which for
Coca-Cola’s global sustainability framework reflects circular thinking in the goal to replenish 100 percent of the water used in its finished beverages globally by 2020. In China,
Education Key to Success
In the projects that test and clean water, which we use around world to provide safe cleaning drinking water for communities, education and awareness raising are key. Investing in just the technical hardware to provide clean water isn’t enough.
Innovation alone won’t do; wholesale transformation is required. I believe in the ability of human beings to think and create the intellectual capability to drive these changes. Our collective brain power is really the micro-chip of this world.
Bea Perez is chief sustainability officer at The Coca-Company