Case Study COCA-COLA


Coca-Cola Enterprises is one of the world’s largest marketers, producers and distributors of products of the Coca-Cola Company.
  • Country: UK
  • Sector: Beverages
  • Name of Initiative: ‘COMMITMENT 2020 ROUNDTABLE’
  • Level of Engagement: Corporate
  • Purpose: Advise
  • Approach: Panel / On-line
  • Type of stakeholders: Representative stakeholders


In October 2010, Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) completed one of the largest transactions in Coca-Cola history, selling its North American business to The Coca-Cola Company and strengthening and expanding its European territory to become a wholly European business. The company wanted to ensure its Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CRS) commitments and targets remained in line with its ongoing aspiration to be the CRS leader in the food and beverage industry in its wholly European operating environment. Therefore, in early 2011, CCE convened a group of 25 key stakeholders from across its 7 European countries, using telepresence technology to discuss what they believe sustainability leadership entails, and what CCE should do to be a CRS leader.


Participants were linked via telepresence video conference technology in seven locations: Uxbridge and London, United Kingdom; Brussels, Belgium; Paris, France; Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Stockholm, Sweden; Atlanta, Georgia, USA. The discussion for the roundtable was built by CCE’s CRS team. Participants were presented with a pre-read document outlining proposed goals and targets for CCE in its seven focus areas – Energy and Climate Change, Sustainable Packaging and Recycling, Water Stewardship, Product Portfolio, Community, Active Healthy Living and Workplace. They were asked for feedback on this document during the roundtable session.
Partners from the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) facilitated the event. CCE produced an official note of the meeting which was circulated to all participants after the event, but which was not made publicly available.


The roundtable was made of 25 members from across CCE’s 7 countries of operation, who participated as advisers. They represented a diverse set of organizations, including international environmental NGOs, consultancies, thought leaders, elected officials, trade associations and The Coca-Cola Company. CCE focused on inviting stakeholders who already knew its business, and with whom it’d engaged previously.


Graham Baxter, from IBLF, was invited to chair and moderate the Roundtable. A few months later, in September 2011, a Virtual Panel Discussion was held to introduce the plan to a wide range of stakeholders, including those who participated in the Roundtable. This was entitled “Collaboration through the Value Chain: Creating a Low-Carbon Future” and all those who attended the panel were invited to participate either in person or via webcast. The entire discussion was available for viewing real time, with questions taken from stakeholders participating via the internet as well as those in the room. The aim was to create an engaging and transparent forum to share and receive valuable feedback about the Plan and show stakeholders that the company wants to continue to involve them on its CRS journey. CCE also wanted to begin to discuss how it can work across the value chain to meet its commitments so invited customers, suppliers, and sustainability experts to serve on the panel, including Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business at M&S; Tom Delay, CEO of The Carbon Trust; Catherine Crouch, Director of Tenens Environmental for Howard Tenens; Arco Berkenbosch, VP Research and Development for Smurfit Kappa Corrugated.

Connection with company governance

CCE’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, John Brock, introduced the Roundtable. Hubert Patricot, President of CCE’s European Group also attended, together with Laura Brightwell, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications and CCE’s focus area steering group leaders. Topics covered included proposed goals and targets for CCE in its seven focus areas.
The Roundtable has influenced the development of CCE’s sustainability plan ‘Deliver for today, inspire for tomorrow’, launched in September 2011 and provided useful guidance to its leadership team on stakeholder expectations for CCE’s CRS program in Europe. In the sustainability plan, a new vision and three strategic priorities for CRS at CCE were defined. It provides a framework which allows the company both to focus on material sustainability issues and to introduce the concept of innovating for a low-carbon, zero-waste future. It sets ambitious commitments in seven focus areas underpinned by 37 measurable targets and takes responsibility for business impacts beyond core operations, throughout the entire value chain. Based on stakeholders’ advice, CCE also chose two areas to focus on ‘leading the industry’ where the company believes it can make the most difference – Energy and Climate Change and Sustainable Packaging and Recycling.

Outcomes and benefits

According to CCE, the Roundtable has helped to build stronger relationships with a wide range of stakeholders. It has exceeded the company’s expectations in terms of its clear messages and output, and stakeholders provided strong guidance which informed the development of the new sustainability plan.
The company learnt from stakeholders that sustainability leaders demonstrated key characteristics:
  • A holistic approach, integrating sustainability thinking in its core business models
  • Taking broad responsibility for impacts up and down the value chain
  • Having a compelling vision of a sustainable future
  • Strong leadership from the CEO, supported by strong governance
  • Developing innovative solutions to global problems
  • Setting leading edge aspirations and targets that they may not at first know how to achieve
  • Collaborating and networking with experts and other businesses
As a result, CCE tried to ensure that its new sustainability plan included many of these characteristics.
 CCE intends to continue its stakeholder outreach and continue to update its stakeholders, including those invited to the roundtable, on its progress against its sustainability plan.

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