That’s just one of the answers Coca-Cola European Partners and Cranfield University hope to find as they plough through a 6-month research project together, entitled Sustainable Manufacturing for the Future.

The partnership began in March this year and progress is already underway, with a white paper released last week. It looks at the current and future of sustainable manufacturing within the world of food and drink, as well as the industry at large, and investigates some of the challenges and opportunities in the face of rapid and fundamental change.

The paper identifies 6 key themes: People, Big Data, Technology, Collaboration, Value and Resilience, which were also discussed during a roundtable attended by employees, experts and academics at one of CCEP’s factories in Milton Keynes. Other topics included resource security, the circular economy, sustainable technologies, waste management and what a sustainable factory will look like in 2050.

  • People are core to enacting change and must be engaged, well-trained, flexible and skilled.
  • Big Data will play an ever more important role in organisations and society as a whole.
  • Technology may not be the sole solution to creating a sustainable future.
  • Collaboration will develop to a more symbiotic relationship between a company and its supply chain.
  • Value will have a fundamental impact on which resources are used.
  • Resilience, the ability to adapt to change and do this at speed, will be key to future decision-making as businesses seek to maintain a supply of quality, ethically-sourced raw materials.

“When it comes to tackling the fundamental issues impacting sustainability in the manufacturing industry, collaboration is key, which is why we are excited to have embarked on this research partnership with Cranfield University and continue to involve our industry peers” said Steve Adams, Group Director of Supply Chain Operations, at Coca-Cola European Partners. “Today’s white paper marks the first step in unlocking the future of sustainable manufacturing, and we look forward to exploring the themes in even more depth to identify the most important ideas and innovations which will help to progress and improve our industry.”

Mark Jolly, Professor of Sustainable Manufacturing at Cranfield University, said “We hope that Cranfield’s cross-sector vision and experience as well as its extensive network of contacts will be invaluable for CCEP in its vision for lower energy, reduced materials usage and lowest CO2 footprint in its manufacturing plants. During this project CCEP will support a number of masters’ research projects. Working with large companies such as CCEP also gives our students an enhanced experience with real opportunities for development of their skills thus making them highly employable.”

A second white paper is scheduled for release later this year, so stay tuned.