Leendert den Hollander, Vice President and General Manager at Coca-Cola Enterprises, now Coca-Cola European Partners, discusses the launch of the bottler's 2015 community report, which looks at some of their local initiatives from WWF-UK to ParkLives and Special Olympics. 

Whatever the shape and size of a business, we believe there is a responsibility to make sure we work in a way that makes a positive sustainable contribution to both the environment and society.

At our heart we are a truly local business, with factories and offices spread over GB, which is why last year we invested £1.2 million in community programmes. From supporting the employability skills of young people and protecting the environment, to encouraging people to get active, our new community report details some of what it means to be a local business under the newly formed Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP).

We’re proud of our British manufacturing heritage and strive to improve workplace skills in Great Britain by opening up our business and sharing experiences through our dedicated education programme. During 2015, our five education centres across GB hosted more than 11,000 students, giving them an insight into manufacturing processes, as well as guided tours of the factories.

Being a local business is more than just looking at today, but helping to inspire and develop the future generations within our communities. In the UK women currently make up around 14% of the STEM workforce1, which is clearly insufficient.

At CCEP, we are very passionate about supporting all young people to develop careers in manufacturing and engineering, and promoting workplace diversity. On International Women’s Day 2016 we opened the doors of our headquarters in Uxbridge to a group of female students from six local schools, to inspire them with a range of activities and networking sessions with some of our own female prodigies.

With our commitment to supporting young people in their future careers, another exciting time for us was the recent culmination of the 2015-2016 Real Business Challenge. Running annually for over 10 years, this was the largest competition to date, with 88,900 students taking part.

During the challenge, which saw students tasked with designing an anti-litter awareness campaign for people in their local areas, 120 of our employees volunteered as business mentors to help the students gain the skills and knowledge they need to have a competitive edge in the job market.

Sharing a common drive to give back to the local communities in which we operate, volunteering is something that is highly valued to everyone at CCEP, at all levels of our organisation. We offer our employees the opportunity to either volunteer or fund raise for Special Olympics GB, as well as other local charities. Our employees fully embrace this opportunity, volunteering 2,251 hours of their time last year with activities ranging from charity walks and Bake Offs, to a 200km charity cycle.

We want to play our part in encouraging people to get moving across the cities, towns and villages of Great Britain to tackle the issue of physical inactivity. We’re thrilled that 75,000 participants have so far become involved in our ParkLives community programme, which offers a variety of fun, free activities in parks across GB. Since 2010, our partnership with national charity StreetGames has also helped 165,000 young people from disadvantaged communities gain access to sport.

As we seek to grow our business, we also continue to work hard to minimise our environmental impact both as a national organisation and in the regions where we operate. We’re committed to reduce the carbon footprint of the drink in the consumer’s hand by one third by 2020 and we’re on track with 100% of our manufacturing waste being sent for recycling or energy recovery last year.

Ongoing initiatives that we’ve championed to connect with different regions and demographics in GB include our popular festival recycling campaign ‘Happiness Recycled’, partnerships with charities WWF-UK and Special Olympics GB, and campaigns with a variety of national anti-litter groups including Hubbub and Keep Scotland Beautiful.

As we enter a new era as CCEP, we look forward to continuing and evolving our work within British communities to drive positive change for local people and future generations.

Download the 2015 community report (PDF).

1 Labour Force Survey April – June 2015, published by Office for National Statistics, August 2015