Landowner Stephen Butterfield and Tomasz Parzyk, environmental manager for CCEP's Wakefield plant, in front of the vast new solar installation.
Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has started sourcing all of the electricity needed for its UK operations from renewable sources.
By making the switch, the bottler claimed it was demonstrating its commitment to sustainable manufacturing across the whole of its UK operations.
The news coincides with the launch of a major renewable project by CCEP, with all electricity generated by a new solar farm being used to support production of its brands at Europe’s largest soft drinks factory in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.
The solar farm covers eight hectares and will produce up to 5mW of energy at full capacity. In 2014, a £1 million combined heat and power system was also launched at CCEP’s Wakefield site, helping to save 1,500 tons of CO2 a year across the factory’s operations.
Together with the renewable electricity sourced from solar panels, 3,800 tonnes of CO2 will be saved at the Wakefield site every year.
CCEP head of sustainability Nick Brown said: “At CCEP we are committed to minimising the impact of our operations, with a core goal to reduce the carbon footprint of the drink in the consumers’ hand by a third in time for 2020. By guaranteeing that 100% of the electricity we use comes from renewable sources we’re taking a major step forward in achieving this.
“The Wakefield solar farm is a long-term sustainability project for CCEP, capable of producing up to 5MW of energy at full capacity. We’ve been collaborating with partners across GB to build our renewable energy credentials and have enjoyed working together with a number of local groups and businesses in Wakefield to support this.”
The solar panels – 1.5 miles from CCEP’s Wakefield plant – have been installed by solar PV specialists Athos Solar on fields belonging to a local landowner and businessman. The site will also maintain dual-use as grazing land for animals.
The solar installation is connected directly to the factory through a series of underground cables, delivering 15% of the site’s total electricity needs and helping to reduce its operational carbon footprint by more than 8%.
John Newton, associate director of the advocacy group The Carbon Trust, hailed Coca-Cola’s progress towards a low-carbon manufacturing profile.
“Over the past decade [CCEP] has continuously made impressive reductions in its environmental impact, at the same time as taking a strong leadership position on sustainability issues. This new move to purchase renewable electricity is yet another positive step forwards from the company, demonstrating that the business case for going low-carbon is no barrier to commercial success.”
And Stephen Butterfield, the landowner of the solar farm site, said: “As a resident and business owner near Wakefield, I’m very excited to be working with one of the world’s largest brands on such a worthwhile initiative, harnessing renewable energy from Yorkshire to bring soft drinks to people across the country. It’s fantastic to be utilising my land to support local manufacturing, and in a way that helps to protect our environment.
“I look forward to working closely with Coca-Cola European Partners and Athos Solar on this project over the coming years and am thankful for the support of our local government members, as well as the collaborative effort of [property consultants] Manorwest and [construction company] Grupo Zaragozá, throughout the project.”
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