National initiative inspires CCE Sweden to cut carbon emissions by two-thirds in 6 years

By Paul Gander

- Last updated on GMT

Coca-Cola truck powered by biogas
Coca-Cola truck powered by biogas

Related tags: Greenhouse gas, Climate change

A cross-sector business initiative in Sweden is raising the bar internationally in the drive to reduce carbon emissions, with Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) Sweden reporting an emissions cut of 66% in the six years up to 2013, and other food and drink businesses targeting a 40% cut by 2020.

Set up in 2010, the Haga Initiative (named after a Stockholm eco-park) uses a combination of simplicity and transparency to encourage significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“To be a member, companies have to set a climate target of at least a 40% reduction by 2020 compared with a post-1990 base year of their choice,”​ said programme director Nina Ekelund. “We have no other targets.”

She added: “We’ve seen that if you calculate and disclose, you tend to decrease your emissions. My experience is that you reduce around 10% to 20% the first year you disclose.”

Also among the 14 member companies are McDonald's, coffee business Löfbergs, meat processor HK Scan, farming co-operative and consumer brand owner Lantmänner and retailer Axfood.

The group said it was worried by the absence of political debate around climate change. It emphasises active commitment to GHG reductions at board level, and a key argument is that the process makes participating businesses more rather than less profitable. “Our analysis of approximately 30 reports unequivocally shows that corporate climate engagement is profitable,”​ said Ekelund. Different companies might feel the benefits in reduced energy costs, for example, or in branding.

CCE Sweden took 2007 as its base year, achieving its dramatic cut thanks to changes in manufacturing, transport and (more controversially) in point-of-sale (POS) refrigeration. Of this third area, public affairs director Peter Bodor said: “Some have questioned this, but we still see the coolers used for our product as our own emissions.”

Five years ago, CCE Sweden switched to using renewable energy for all its production. “The next logical step was to use renewable energy for all our vehicles, but that was more difficult,” said Bodor. “It involved working with our own fleet and third-party logistics providers.”​ Currently, around 80% of CCE’s fuel for transport is from renewable sources. 

New POS coolers can cut energy consumption by up to 40%, he said, while smaller moves away from open-door coolers and towards LED lighting have also made a contribution. 

Ekelund sees this as very much a Swedish initiative, and CCE has no official policy to transfer best practice into other European markets.

“But we can learn from each other,”​ said Bodor. “In France, for example, they are much better at improving the water usage ratio, while we can challenge other markets on energy efficiency, and so on.”

He added: “We’re in the middle of trying to set new targets. If you aim high, it’s an important signal to send internally.”​ But he admitted that much of the ‘low-hanging fruit’ in GHG emissions had already gone. 

Related topics: Business, Sustainability

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