Coca-Cola’s Europe, Middle East and Africa group, which we refer to as EMEA, covers a vast and diverse area, stretching from Iceland all the way to the easternmost tip of Russia, down through Pakistan, then on to the southernmost tip of Africa. Our diversity here is both demographic and cultural – but there are also commonalities.

There are vibrant, growing economies and growth opportunities that we are seizing across the region. Importantly, by doing business the right way, we help create shared opportunity through growth. That means jobs, economic growth and lasting prosperity for the communities we call home.

"By doing business the right way, we help create shared opportunity through growth. That means jobs, economic growth, and lasting prosperity for the communities we call home."

With such a large land area, EMEA includes some of the most water-scarce regions in the world. We’re addressing these challenges by replenishing the water we use through regional initiatives that give people access to clean, safe water; protect watersheds; and improve water efficiency for agriculture.

As part of our water leadership work, Coca-Cola returned 100 percent of the water used in our finished beverages back to communities and nature in the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan in 2017 – two years ahead of our regional target. With our philanthropic foundations, we have implemented projects throughout the region, including in Pakistani, Jordanian, Egyptian and Palestinian communities. Building on this progress, we plan to launch new projects in Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, Algeria and Morocco in 2018 and to expand our replenish work to reach Sudan for the first time, bolstering drought and humanitarian response efforts.

The United Nations has called the African Sahel famine the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945. Like many, we have been deeply saddened by the escalation of famine and drought throughout the region and have embraced the meaningful role we can play alongside NGOs and governments. In 2017, The Coca-Cola Company and our foundations made a joint donation of more than $10 million to support relief and resilience efforts to counter the famine’s severity that has swept across 10 African Sahel countries, including $9.6 million to famine- and drought-related programs in Chad, Ethiopia, Somaliland, Sudan and Uganda. Our system’s supply chain and distribution expertise provides us with a unique opportunity to help other critical stakeholders by sharing our knowledge. In 2017, Project Last Mile – the program through which we transfer our supply-chain management and marketing expertise to help governments and health systems get life-saving medicines and medical supplies to intended destinations – expanded its reach to strengthen health systems in Liberia and Swaziland.

We are working to use less water per liter of product we produce every year. In 2017, Coca-Cola Central & Eastern Europe (CEE) used 6 percent less water per liter of product than in 2016, for a cumulative improvement of 33 percent since 2004. Coca-Cola CEE also returned over three times the water used in its finished beverages back to communities and nature.

Across our Coca-Cola system we continue to explore ways to support communities in water-stressed areas. Healthy Rivers for Cape Town (a Replenish Africa Initiative - - RAIN initiative) supports the optimal functioning of natural water sources by restoring a degraded river system through the removal of invasive plants and visible rubbish. RAIN, working in partnership with the City of Cape Town, is focused on clearing invasive plants from a 12 kilometer stretch of the Diep River, which significantly reduces the strain on the river’s resources.  The program also has a strong focus on job creation, particularly for women, as well as capacity building with project beneficiaries to inspire a better understanding of water quality and the dynamics of a healthy river system. The drought in the Western Cape (South Africa) continues to be a challenge for communities, and we along with our bottling partners continue to work with key stakeholders to address challenges and effectively manage water usage.

The implementing partners of the PIER (Protection, Integration and Education for Refugees) Program joined forces with The Coca-Cola Foundation to support and assist refugees and migrants on their first steps in Europe. In 2017, the program was supported by over 1,300 volunteers which benefited nearly 17,000 people throughout Greece, Italy and Austria. The Coca-Cola Foundation granted $1.9 million in support of the program. Because of its great success in the first year and the continuing urgent need for assistance, the PIER Program is being continued in 2018 as PIER II Program with support from The Coca-Cola Foundation.

While water and health are main focuses for our region, we are also working to support other company-wide initiatives, such as 5by20? and our sustainable packaging vision, World Without Waste.

Women are integral to our world’s shared success, so we seek to empower them both in the workplace and throughout the world. As one example from our region, in Poland, “Success is Me”, which was launched as part of 5by20?, is the biggest nationwide and free-of-charge professional activation program for women, helping them build their self-esteem and strengthen their competencies in areas related to business and career. The program recently secured honorary patronage from the European Commission Representation Office in Poland. This is a significant achievement for the nationwide training and empowerment program for women which is only in its second year.  

Globally, our primary packaging goal is to help collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one we sell by 2030. In Germany, we’ve been making great strides, with a recovery rate for all packages, refillable and non-refillable, at 97 percent. Coca-Cola European Partners Germany has installed more than 300 containers at its production plant at Genshagen which can be used to collect 50 different types of waste materials. 99 percent of these materials can be re-used, making Coca-Cola the first beverage company in Germany to come this close to completely closing the recycling loop – an achievement that was certified by independent German environmental institute bifa. As is the case with all Coca-Cola production plants in Germany, the Genshagen plant operated exclusively with energy from renewable sources.        

In an effort to broadly share our message that Coca-Cola packaging is valuable and needs to be disposed of properly, in 2017 in Great Britain we launched the first-ever ad made out of 100 percent recyclable packaging, "Love Story." In the groundbreaking spot, two plastic bottles fall in love as they meet over and over again because of recycling. At the United Kingdom’s University of Reading, we introduced a trial of Coca-Cola Freestyle new generation, smart fountain dispensers that work with refillable, micro-chipped bottles. In the first two weeks of the trial, 1,500 refillable bottles had been provided to students – that’s 1,500 people reducing their packaging footprint.     

In Russia, we launched a campaign called “Separate with Us.” The campaign’s focus is to develop a culture and practice of separate waste collection among youth. In 2017, we recycled 10,000 tons of plastic and educated 660,000 youth.

PETCO, the state-of-the-art recycling organization in which the Coca-Cola system invested, collected and recycled an estimated record number of PET bottles in 2017 -- 2.15 billion. South Africa was the first African country to use rPET for Coca-Cola products, and our scientists and packaging buyers in South Africa are working with innovation labs, environmental experts and mainstream suppliers to develop advanced packaging, such as eco-twist bottles, which use less plastic and remove non-recyclable bottle colors from our PET. PETCO’s success in South Africa has inspired Coca-Cola to help launch the model in Kenya through the Kenya Association of Manufacturers.

Outside of our environmental work, we’ve also been expanding our portfolio of beverage options. In some beverage categories where our share is relatively low, we’ve been taking brand platforms and introducing them – as in the case of FUZE Tea across Europe. The single-day launch of FUZE Tea in Europe in early 2018 was executed on a scale unprecedented in the company’s history. As we planned in 2017 for this expansion, we intentionally thought through how growth would allow us to create more opportunity for farmers who grow our ingredients. We also brought AdeS/AdeZ, a plant-based beverage, from Latin America to Europe in 2018.

Across EMEA, we continue to execute our company strategy to give people more of the drinks they want. We have FUZE Tea in more than 60 countries, Honest Tea in 13 countries, AdeS/AdeZ in 16 countries and innocent drinks and smartwater in nearly 20 countries. This layering in of brands by “lifting and shifting” from other regions helps to accelerate our portfolio expansion across beverage categories.

With our bottling partners, and working closely with the rest of the European soft drinks industry and national associations, we are advancing the process toward the bold new commitment to reduce the average added sugar content of still drinks and sparkling soft drinks in Europe by 10 percent between 2015 and 2020. We also announced in 2017 a global pilot relaunch of Sprite in the Netherlands as a totally sugar-free brand.

The environmental and social efforts covered in this article are only a glimpse of the many important programs underway across EMEA. We continue to elevate our programs and help deliver solutions to the concerns that communities in our region face. Our efforts are very much focused both on the societal needs of today and helping to provide the ability of future generations to live in a better planet.

Our Europe, Middle East & Africa group includes 2.5 billion consumers and has an industry retail value of $275 billion. Our customers are served through our six business units, spanning from Western Europe to the Middle East to Southern Africa.