Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) has today released the initial findings from its industry research partnership with Cranfield University; a white paper entitled Sustainable Manufacturing for the Future.  

The paper considers the current and future landscape of sustainable manufacturing across the food and drink industry in Great Britain, investigating what the challenges and opportunities the industry needs to address to achieve rapid and fundamental change.

CCE’s six month research partnership with Cranfield University began in March this year, with a roundtable event held at CCE’s Milton Keynes factory, hosted by representatives from both parties. A number of leading academics and industry experts attended the launch to discuss the key topics impacting sustainability in the industry today, and those anticipated for the future. Outputs from these discussions have informed the recommendations put forward in the project’s first paper.

Released in conjunction with the launch of CCE’s GB Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report, the white paper identifies six key themes that the industry would need to address in the coming years – People, Big Data, Technology, Collaboration, Value and Resilience.

Initial findings include:

• People are core to enacting change and must be engaged, well-trained, flexible and skilled. Sustainable business must focus on their staff as well as potential new recruits, customers and suppliers

• Big data will play an ever more important role in organisations and society as a whole. Products and outputs will begin to be increasingly tailored to customer preferences, which can be tracked through the effective capturing and use of consumer data

• Technology may not be the sole solution to a more sustainable future. The rise of big data and a shift away from globalisation could lead to some radical innovations. Technology will play a vital part, but it must support new ways of working  

• Collaboration will develop into a more symbiotic relationship between a company and its supply chain, with more involvement with local communities. Equally, knowledge sharing and collaboration between competitors to reduce resource use and waste will become key

• Value will have a fundamental impact on what resources are used – encompassing high standards, convenience, trust and doing good for human kind as well as the environment  as consumers become increasingly concerned about the traceability of products and the value of waste. Developing circularity in how a business controls its resources will become prominent. The servitization  and the adaptability of products that can be used beyond their intended purpose to deliver ‘value beyond profit’ will grow

• Resilience - the ability to adapt to change and to do so at speed will be key to future decision-making, as businesses seek to maintain a supply of quality, ethically-sourced raw materials. Flexibility and transparency in both sustainable manufacturing and the supply chain will be vital in delivering this.

Whilst it was agreed that government policy and legislation would also play an important role, the white paper looks at how the food and drink industry, as the largest manufacturing sector in Great Britain, can take ownership of these six topics and drive progress forward from within.

The six themes will set the agenda for the project’s next phase of research. During this subsequent stage, CCE and Cranfield University will look to gain a better understanding of each topic. A second white paper based upon this in-depth research will be released later this year.

Steve Adams, Group Director of Supply Chain Operations, at Coca-Cola Enterprises GB, said: “At Coca-Cola Enterprises, we take our responsibilities in the future of manufacturing extremely seriously. 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.

“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.”

Dr Peter Ball, Reader in Manufacturing Operations at Cranfield University, added: “The joint research project on sustainable manufacturing for the future between Coca-Cola Enterprises and Cranfield University has reached an exciting stage with the publication of the white paper from our recent roundtable.

“The gathering of experts resulted in the identification of six themes  -  People, Big data, Technology, Collaboration, Value and Resilience that are now the subject of intensive research by Cranfield masters students. The focus will be on how we can achieve rapid and fundamental change, and will explore further working across boundaries not only in the food and drink manufacturing sector but across the entire manufacturing industry."

Notes for editors

Any companies or individuals looking to participate in the Sustainable Manufacturing for the Future study are invited to join the discussion with CCE and Cranfield. For an opportunity to contribute to the research please contact or tweet @CokeCCE using the hashtag #futurefactorycce.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.

Manufacturing Doctoral Training Centre

This higher research degree is associated with our Manufacturing Doctoral Training Centre (DTC). The Manufacturing DTC encompasses ten major research themes that benefit from the clear synergy between engineering materials, manufacturing technology and manufacturing management, supported by a strong and fundamental engineering and science base. This provides a powerful combination of multidisciplinary skills that ensures both industrial relevance and academic rigor that builds on state-of-the-art industrial scale research and development facilities that differentiate the Cranfield activity from other universities.

A tailored programme of seminars and events alongside the generic core skills training programme, provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities with Cranfield’s wider research community.