As the COP26 conference draws to a close, we have an opportunity to reflect on our progress towards net zero, and some of the challenges that lie ahead. The conference has generated much needed discussion. Commitments have been made across a broad range of topics; from pledges to end and reverse deforestation to net zero targets for transportation.
We, at Britvic, know that we need to do our bit. Our Healthier People, Healthier Planet strategy aligns with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and works towards eight goals for 2025, including reducing our Scope 1 & 2 emissions by 50% and Scope 3 emissions by 35%, both from a 2017 base year. My role at Britvic is ensuring that this sustainable business strategy is part of our everyday decision making. We have made a great deal of progress, acting early and addressing problem areas. For example, we were the first UK soft drinks company to have an approved 1.5°C target and we committed to the Science Based Targets initiative back in December 2019. We have also made great strides in our intent to move to 100 % rPET bottles in Great Britain by the end of 2022. We also recently won at the Finance for the Future awards for Embedding an Integrated Approach. This category looks for organisations in which sustainability is fully embedded in business decision making and is supported by financial and non-financial KPIs set out in our management and annual reports.
We are making changes across the business. We do this not only because it is the right thing to do, but because we know that we have a responsibility to act now to ensure that we can have a resilient business in the future. I want to shine a light on a few of the actions we are taking here:
We source from over 400 direct suppliers, and we need to have confidence in the ethical and environmental practices of every single one. Therefore, the development of our sustainable sourcing strategy and decision to become a member of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative was an important step for us. We are also in the process of updating our sustainable sourcing policy for key agricultural ingredients such as fruits to ensure we source from suppliers and farmers who meet stringent regenerative agricultural principles. Our logistics team is also working hard with customers to try to help reduce the loads and load miles travelled at the end of our product journey.
The decarbonisation of heat is also an area of focus. As part of production processes such as pasteurisation we use a great deal of heat and steam. While we are implementing renewable energy solutions here, these more sustainable options do not yet achieve the temperatures that we need to make our drinks to the quality required. Our hope is that technology and innovation will continue to move at pace and that we will soon find a solution and I heartily encourage investment into technological innovation in this area in particular.
Our indirect or Scope 3 emissions are next on the list. These relate to over 90% of our emissions tied to ingredients, packaging, logistics, chillers and transport. The difficulty here is that Scope 3 emissions by nature are not directly within our control as they are generated outside of our organisation but because of our products. That’s why we are working with our suppliers, customers, and consumers, to achieve our ambition here. This can also be seen as a plus, given that our Scope 3 will naturally be someone else’s Scope 1, so there is the broader understanding and willingness, that we must work together.
A key part of the next step for us all will be measuring progress and ensuring that these targets are met. This is where I have been particularly encouraged by engagement from the financial industry, with the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation’s announcement of its new International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) which coincided with the conference. The ISSB will consolidate existing oversight and is a huge and much needed step towards the development of a respected and singular international corporate reporting system, addressing the need for a set of global authoritative standards for non-financial reporting on climate and sustainability.
This is a journey, and we don’t have all the answers right now, but we are working hard with our suppliers, our customers and external parties to be innovative and find solutions. Only through our continued cooperation, finding technological solutions and dedication to achieving targets, do we stand a chance of achieving the changes needed for us to have the sustainable future that the COP26 conference is championing and ultimately create a better tomorrow.
Sarah Webster | Director of Sustainable Business