Blog : CCNNE: Small Changes, Big Sustainable Results

By Craig | Sep 1, 2015 | in

By Michael McCord

Ray Dube of Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England likes to call sustainability innovations “no-brainers,” because one never knows how even a small act can evolve into something special.

But Dube knows. As the sustainability manager at Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England (CNNE), he’s seen it happen many times and never takes it for granted. CCNNE is known throughout the region and in the industry for the depth and breadth of its sustainability initiatives including recycling, energy efficiency and better resource management.

The widespread sustainability measures at CCNNE’s state-of-the-art bottling plant in Londonderry, its 10 distribution centers (in New England and upstate New York), and its fleet of more than 500 vehicles have added up.

But sometimes it’s the little things that give one pause. During an educational event at a Vermont middle school, Dube, who’d logged over100 similar presentations in 2014, discussed the value of the half-dozen syrup barrels he brought with him.

“I talked to them about composting and how simple and easy it was to make [the barrels],” he explained. “Some of the kids came up with good, quirky questions about composting. Even better, they came up with a plan to remake the barrels and sell them for a fundraiser to the community. It’s just a no-brainer for us when we can provide something as simple as a syrup barrel and watch what happens.”

And it’s just not students learning something new. Since Dube became the sustainability manager in 2013, he’s visited scores of New England businesses sharing the various ways CCNNE limits its carbon footprint, bringing sustainability into discussions on efficient business models.

When Dube shares stories and details about how much CCNNE does on a daily basis with companies like Raytheon and Life is Good, he said he can sense the seeds of inspiration from his audiences.

“People respect what we are doing. When we say that small changes can mean big things for us, they understand how these practices can benefit their companies and the people who work for them as well,” Dube said. “Our goal is to help schools, groups, businesses and towns get better.”

The sustainability efforts at CCNNE have proven durable and trend-setting. This regional franchise has taken initiatives that often exceed those of its multinational parent company, Coca-Cola Company.

For example, it’s no surprise that water resource management is critical for CCNNE and is a top priority for the parent company. The Londonderry Production Center, which created 25 million cases of beverage products in 2014, has dramatically dropped its consumption from Lake Massabesic for the past decade, from two liters for one liter of finished product to 1.6 in 2014. The average Coca-Cola manufacturing plant is 2.08 liters of water use and CCNNE is 23 percent more efficient than the average, in part because every ounce of water used to wash and clean pallets is tracked and recycled; and hoses are constantly checked for leaks to reduce water waste.

CCNNE continues to exceed its annual recycling benchmarks. Dube said that in partnership with consumers, industry and town governments, the goal is to work together to recover and recycle 50 percent of the equivalent bottles and cans produced each year.

Through partnership efforts with universities, popular sporting events such as the New Hampshire-based NASCAR races in Loudon, and events like the Lowell, Mass. Folk Festival, Dube said CCNNE aids in education and recycling programs. More than 3.3 million pounds of aluminum and 5.1 million pounds of plastic PET were recycled in 2014.

Given the massive scale of production and distribution by CCNNE, changes such as smaller bottle caps, shrink wrap, plastic pallets, and more efficient vehicle fleet and warehousing practices can save on costs and require less resource usage.

Additionally, CCNNE is a business partner of the Green Alliance, the Portsmouth organization representing more than 100 local sustainable businesses and nearly 4,000 consumer members.
CCNNE is also a member of New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility and is a leading sponsor of New Hampshire the Beautiful, which has helped kick start recycling programs in many of New Hampshire cities and towns.

Dube said the long-term goal of CCNNE’s multi-faceted sustainability effort is to open minds to new possibilities and change habits for the good of all communities.

“One of the advantages we have is that our focus is so local that we get to see how this really hits home,” Dube said. “The public is getting to know about us and learn how I go across the state to educate everyone from school students to corporate managers. We are getting invited to state offices to help them and that’s something that didn’t happen before.”

Learn more about Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England here.