Dongen in Brabant was once one of
five production centers for Coca-Cola Enterprises Nederland, but today it is the sole location serving the entire Dutch market. And production capacity is being further expanded in 2009, with jobs exceeding the 300 mark as well. Moreover, Coca-Cola in Dongen has taken on a pioneering role when it comes to sustainable business. While the American company has been present in Brabant since the 1950s, it still quenches the economy and the environment in the region today.
In 2008 Coca-Cola Enterprises Nederland sold 586 million liters of soda drinks and achieved a turnover of over 513 million euros. While these figures may be relatively small when compared to the company's worldwide achievements, sales in the Netherlands still mean that Coca-Cola has a local market share of almost 20 percent for non-alcoholic beverages. And so the production plant in Dongen is working at full speed, and all the more with the ever-widening range of products offered by Coca-Cola Enterprises. Aside from their own labels, this range includes many other soda brands. In the last few years the company has invested tens of millions of euros in the production lines at the bottling plant in Dongen, which is now one of the most high-tech plants in Europe. A wholly new can production line will start running this year, an expansion that will also mean another 20 new jobs.
The fact that Coca-Cola Enterprises is increasingly converting economic profits into social ones is very evident at the plant in Dongen, where the company almost literally sits atop its most important resource - water. "Mineral water of the purest variety," Kris Moortgat, Operations Director in Dongen, explains. "We are naturally very sparing when it comes to that source, not only because water is essential to our production but also in the interests of the environment that are involved. In extracting the water we comply with the strictest environmental requirements. Moreover, we do everything possible to not disturb natural development in the soil and to combat pollution and the source running dry."
Further evidence of Coca-Cola's sparing use of ‘its' water can be found in the decreased consumption of water per liter of product that was realized in 2008. The Dongen plant is even a European leader in that regard. And there are further developments, says Kris Moortgat, that demonstrate that Coca-Cola Enterprises Nederland is an exceptional company when it comes to sustainable business practices. "Switching to the PET bottle, which is why we converted our production lines in Dongen, has not resulted in any additional pressure on the environment. On the contrary, thanks to the opportunities for reuse and the application of ever-thinner PET bottles, we are even making environmental gains. The can production line means a decrease of 50 percent in road transport for can packaging, because the majority of the Dutch market is now no longer supplied from France. And last but not least, here in Dongen we are seriously investigating the possibility of more sustainable energy applications."
The sustainability program adhered to by Coca-Cola in Dongen also illustrates the regional and local involvement of the company, which is further reinforced by the fact that almost all its employees live in the immediate vicinity of the plant. The company also works with regional suppliers, including shippers. "And we work closely with bodies such as the province, the municipality and the Brabant Development Agency," the Operations Director concludes. "They are important partners to us when it comes to continuous innovation, not only from economic motives but also with regard to the environmental challenges that we want to take on with full conviction."