Nina Elezović, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Director for Serbia and Montenegro at Coca-Cola HBC

Sustainability Is A Journey,Not A Destination

Coca-Cola HBC is among the first companies to have set science-based sustainability goals for itself, and achieving them involves the work of all employees, because every sector has a role to play in implementing sustainable practices

With us, taking care starts with saving on crucial resources, such as water and energy, is present in the producing and packaging of our products, and leads all the way to our active participation in dialogue on resolving important challenges in this area – explains Nina Elezović, as well as revealing how Coca-Cola views the link between business and ESG.

Coca-Cola HBC is a company that’s been operating in Serbia for a quarter of a century, demonstrating that taking care of business simultaneously means taking care of people, nature and communities. How would you describe sustainability from the perspective of your company?

Sustainability is a journey for us, not a destination. And, as such, sustainability demands a holistic approach. It isn’t just environmental protection, though these two terms are often seen as analogous. Sustainability is everything you do for the community in which you operate and for people, but likewise also defines the way you run your business, your relationship with partners and shareholders.

And if I were to use the acronym ESG (environmental – social – governance), I would say that, as a business, these letters are each of equal importance to us.

If we consider environmental protection alone, how do you contribute as a company?

Over the last 15 years, we’ve reduced our consumption of water per litre of beverage produced by more than 50 percent. We thereby save enough water to fill around 20 Olympic-sized pools every year.

All three of our bottling plants and the factory of Bambi confectionary exclusively use electricity sourced from renewables

All three of our bottling plants and the factory of Bambi confectionary exclusively use electricity sourced from renewables. We are thus reducing CO2 emissions with the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2040, i.e., of removing as much carbon dioxide as we release into the atmosphere.

We introduced two major product packaging innovations last year. We replaced the plastic wrapping on four-can packs with a cardboard fastener that we call KeelClip, while we also began introducing tethered caps that remain attached to the packaging after opening. We always conclude the story of packaging with collection and recycling. I believe that the establishing of an appropriate deposit-return system in Serbia will lead to the achieving of the desired rates of packaging and recycling returns, and that all of us – as individuals, an industry and a society – will provide our contribution to creating a cleaner environment.

In 2021 alone, together with Bambi, you invested more than €750,000 in local communities, with the project ‘Vlasina – pure love’ standing out as a special community initiative. Why Vlasina and why pure love?

Rosa Water is a special gem in our portfolio. That’s why we treat Vlasina, the home of our Rosa, with special care. For us, Vlasina isn’t only nature that’s to be loved, but rather an emotion in and of itself. In the first year of the initiative, we supported local entrepreneurs, providing them with knowhow and skills to improve their businesses. The project’s second phase, which we are implementing in cooperation with the UNDP office, is currently underway. We are together building and landscaping 47 kilometres of hiking trails in the area above Lake Vlasina.

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