Board of Directors of Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Sales & Services Company, LLC Elects Bill O’Brien as Chairman During Q1 2021 Meeting

Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Sales & Services Company (CCBSS), a limited liability company owned by nearly 70 independent Coca-Cola bottlers, announced today that Bill O’Brien, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Reyes Coca-Cola Bottling (RCCB), has been elected chairman of its board of directors succeeding Mark Schortman, former CEO of Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages (CCSWB), who has retired with 16 years of distinguished board leadership to CCBSS.

“I feel honored to have Bill lead our board of directors. He brings an incredible depth and breadth of Coca-Cola System, beverage industry and bottler experience, gained over more than three decades,” said CCBSS President and CEO Brandi Shortt. “Bill’s wisdom and expertise will be invaluable as we look toward the future and how we can continue to evolve both the Coca-Cola System bottler and CCBSS associate experience.”

Since 2017, Bill has served as CEO for RCCB, a proud West Coast bottler and distributor of Coca-Cola products operating in California and Nevada. The organization employs more than 6,000 people and operates 30 facilities.

During his more than 30-year career within the Coca-Cola System, Bill has served as president and general manager of the West Operating Unit of Coca-Cola Refreshments (CCR); vice president and general manager of CCR’s West Region; senior vice president and general manager of On-Premise Operations for Coca-Cola North America Operating Unit (NAOU); senior vice president of Commercial Leadership for NAOU’s Still Beverage Business Unit; West Region vice president for NAOU Retail; vice president of Sales Operations for the NAOU Food Service division; and vice president of Sales for the West Group of Coca-Cola Food Service.

As an active member of his community, Bill volunteers with organizations such as Special Olympics Southern California. He also serves as a board member of the American Beverage Association and LA84 Foundation and as an advisory board member of the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission.

“I couldn’t begin to thank Mark enough for everything he has done for CCBSS. Since 2005, we’ve been fortunate to be able to leverage his brilliance allowing us to make the right decisions at the right time, materializing the company we are today,” explained Brandi. “As we ready for what’s next, Bill’s unique vision and knowledge arrives at the perfect time for CCBSS. He will guide us as we make key strategic decisions for the road ahead.”

Under its current governance, CCBSS board chairpersons serve two terms.

CCBSS Launches New Public Website

We are excited to announce the launch of our new public website, CCBSS.com! Our new site is designed to help viewers be more informed and engaged with CCBSS. Whether they be interested applicants, partners within the Coca-Cola System or family and friends of CCBSS associates, our new public website is reflective of our company’s positive and assertive culture as well as the unified value we bring as one family working together to support the Coca-Cola Bottling System in North America.

This new, powerful site represents our unique and distinguished company, as well as reinforces our history, but also the company’s promising future. The new site features a contemporary visual identity, accurately reflecting our brand. The new site will help clearly distinguish CCBSS and our culture as it’s themed around who we are, what we do and why we serve the North America Coca-Cola Bottling System.

DASANI Closure Made from Post-Consumer Resin Clinches Top Prize

By Erin Sloan, Plastics News Staff

Coca-Cola wins the 2020 Caps & Closures Innovation Award for the first beverage closure made from post-consumer recycled content, made for its Dasani bottled water line.

The use of recycled content in beverage bottles has been a major focus in recent years, but Coca-Cola Co. has taken its sustainability measures to new heights — the closure.

The newly designed closure for Coca-Cola’s bottled water line, Dasani, is the first of its kind in the beverage industry that has post-consumer recycled content.

The closure was named the winner of Plastics News’ Plastics Caps & Closures Innovation Award during the annual conference on Sept. 25.

“Wow, that’s a big surprise,” said Izabela Lomacka, global procurement director for Atlanta-based Coca-Cola. “Innovations such as these are essential to keep driving action toward a sustainable future. I would like to stress it has been the first use of post-consumer content in our system and, as far as we are aware, is the first in the beverage industry; therefore, it’s a great milestone to be celebrated.”

The closure has the same feel, seal and other characteristics of traditional Dasani closures but with the added sustainability bonus of recycled content.

Michael Price, engineer in research and development for Coca-Cola said that the closure itself has 30 percent recycled content which was a “sweet spot” for functionality. The PCR was harvested from high-density polyethylene milk jugs, which are then purchased from the recycling system, ground, sorted and purified to meet FDA levels.

“Our experience is that we met our goal, which was to make this change invisible to consumers and bottling plants,” he said. “No one is really aware of it because it’s a seamless change in our process.”

During a keynote presentation with the conference, Bimal Lakhotia, director of packaging research and development at Coca-Cola, cited Dasani’s green-colored cap as a nod to the sustainability efforts in the making of the packaging. Green denotes “sustainable” or “recycling.”

“On packaging, there is a science behind using the colors, specifically looking at consumers and coming up with a color of closures,” he said.

Typically, he said, a consumer would weigh purchasing a product made of virgin plastic vs. one made of PCR — the consumer will definitely go with the PCR and is ready to invest in the circular economy.

Incorporating PCR content into closure manufacturing is not an easy process, and teams at Coca-Cola used significant resources in development, testing, partnerships with suppliers, food and safety regulations with the FDA to finish the closure.

“The overall project was pretty technically difficult. Imagine taking PCR, a different resin, and trying to blend it with virgin resin,” said Penny Walter of Coca-Cola bottlers. “It was also difficult to find suppliers that can have an FDA approved material.”

PCR can have some unsavory taste or odors, but Coca-Cola’s processor Envision put the content through rigorous purification to ensure the closures would not have those issues, Price said.

The closure supports Coca-Cola’s pledge to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation for a new plastics economy with higher recycled content and Coca-Cola’s own World Without Waste Program.

The program is a pledge by Coca-Cola to make all packaging from recycled content by 2025, including bottles, cans and closures.

“We want to collect and recycle to drive that circular economy. We’re 60 percent of the way there. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’re committed to this World Without Waste program,” Price said. Another finalist was Calyx Containers, which made the first packaging system for concentrates used in the cannabis industry. It designed a lid with a multi-shot molded cap and TPE gasket that features a quick closing time that makes the jar secure and child-resistant. The other finalist, Clayton Corp., designed a fire extinguisher foam product in an aerosol can, complete with a pressure indicator and a spray cap.

DASANI bottle caps made with recycled plastic launch in California

By Coca-Cola North America and Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Sales & Services Company

Coca-Cola North America is bringing a new twist to sustainable packaging by using caps made from recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic – a beverage industry first – on DASANI bottles.

Reyes Coca-Cola Bottling has piloted and commercialized the resealable closures, which include 30 percent of recycled content, on 20-oz., half-liter and 1-liter PET bottles of DASANI in California. This pioneering innovation supports The Coca-Cola Company’s World Without Waste vision to collect and recycle the equivalent of a bottle or can for each one it sells globally by 2030; to make all packaging fully recyclable by 2025; and to make bottles and cans with 50 percent recycled material by 2030.

“We’ve continued to make progress on long-term goals to reduce waste. Even through this challenging pandemic, we’ve been able to introduce innovations to help improve the sustainability of our packaging,” said Bruce Karas, VP of Environment, Sustainability & Safety, Coca-Cola North America.

The process of producing plastic closures like twist-off caps is challenging from both a manufacturing and regulatory standpoint. Threading inside an FDA-approved cap must fit perfectly with threading on the neck of the bottle to ensure an airtight seal.

“This is not a small achievement,” Karas added, noting that most caps are produced with virgin plastic. “Closures and labels are often missed in the overall context of sustainable packaging, but they’re just as important as bottles and cans. Using recycled content in caps is a clear example of how World Without Waste is challenging us to rethink existing models.”

Coca-Cola North America and Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Sales & Services (CCBSS) worked closely with resin and closure suppliers to develop a cap made with recycled HDPE – the type of plastic used to make milk jug and detergent containers – while meeting all technical and food safety requirements.

“We couldn’t be any more excited about this work as it brings to our consumers the full innovative capacity of the Coca-Cola system – from a sustainability perspective,” explained Suzana Keller, Chief Procurement Officer, Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Sales & Services Company (CCBSS). She continued, “In partnership with various suppliers, CCBSS and Coca-Cola North America developed the first commercially successful bottle cap made from Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) materials. Additionally, we will continue our work by raising recycling awareness within the communities we serve in order to improve collection rates. This will bolster our efforts by allowing us to further leverage post-consumer curbside recycled materials.”

The California pilot also includes a monolayer label for DASANI bottles with 40 percent less plastic than existing labels. These new labels separate more easily in the recycling stream, which means bottles can be more easily recycled and used to make new bottles.

These developments will drive demand for recycled material, supporting a circular, job-creating economy. “Every time recycled material is used, we are reducing our carbon footprint and helping create an end-market for our PET bottles and our HDPE caps, which is very positive,” said Karas.

Coca-Cola North America also has continued to invest in community recycling during the pandemic to drive increased collection of its bottles and cans. The company has provided grants to local organizations like the Conservation Corp. of Long Beach and I Love a Clean San Diego in California, and national collaborations with The Recycling Partnership and The Closed Loop Fund to support curbside collection programs. In 2019, Coca-Cola joined the American Beverage Association in establishing a $100 million fund to support recycling infrastructure and educational programming for communities in 10 major cities.

“As people spend more time at home, we are recognizing an opportunity to do even more to help ensure that people have means to recycle at the curbside,” Karas said.

DASANI has been at the forefront of sustainable packaging innovation since 2009 with the launch of PlantBottle, the first fully recyclable bottle made partially from plants. In 2018, the brand became the first major water brand to debut a package-less water dispensing unit with DASANI PureFill. DASANI plans to remove the equivalent of 1 billion virgin PET bottles from its U.S. supply chain in the next five years.

Meeting Planners’ Guide Prevents Virtual Meeting Burnout with Unique Activities

By H.M. Cauley  – Contributing Writer, Atlanta Business Chronicle

Since the world shut down in March due to the coronavirus, many companies have scrambled to learn a new lingo. Slack, Zoom, Webex, Google Hangouts, Teams, GoToMeeting and other variations of the term “meet online” were integrated into the vocabulary and process of doing business. 

But what seemed innovative and functional five months ago has become, for many, a chore. Employees have been in or heard of online meeting meltdowns that range from participants sleeping, holding other conversations and, yes, using the facilities. 

“We’ve had to make sure there is no virtual meeting burnout,” said Tricia Taylor, senior director of corporate communications and change management for the Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Sales and Service Company. “So along with video conferencing, we’ve had online chats, conference calls and casual, drop-in-and-out meetings at the end of the day. We’ve had to quickly adapt because communication is always critical and even more vital in these unprecedented times.” 

Since going virtual in mid-March, the company’s 1,000 employees in Atlanta, Tampa, Fla. and Tulsa, Okla. have stayed connected beyond official business meetings. They participate in “Wellness Wednesdays” videos that cover issues such as physical and mental health and provide resources for employees who need support. They’ve socialized through pet competitions, virtual bingo, home scavenger hunts and step challenges. 

Founder of the team-building group Improve It!, Erin Diehl takes a similar approach to team meetings. She and her crew work with companies to build cohesion and increase collaboration. When the world went online in March, she realized her group needed to take some of its own advice. Diehl set up themed conversations on Slack around trivia, show tunes, kids and pets, where staff can interact in multiple spaces. 

“What sparked the idea was Goat-2-Meeting, an animal sanctuary you can book, and they’ll show up on your meeting with goats, cows or a farm tour,” said Diehl. “We had smiles for weeks when we did that. And it didn’t take away from work; it just added to our culture.”

Diehl also keeps her team engaged virtually through spirit days, where they dress up in various outfits and find matching backgrounds for their meetings. She also initiated Friday shut-downs to give employees time to get away from the screens.

All the initiatives are to create camaraderie and remove the drudgery that can come from tedious online meetings.

“It’s easy to forget why you do what you do,” she said. “If you forget the people you work with and the impact you make, then you’re not engaged. Making them want to be here is the biggest thing.”

Bela Jacobson, director of packaging operations at the architecture, engineering and construction consulting firm Haskell, has kept her 70-member team in touch through video conferencing, which she’d used well before the pandemic.

“Everybody already had access and logins, most of the team had laptops and [we] converted our conference rooms a year or two ago to accommodate Teams,” she said, adding that the company has about 70 offices around the country that communicate with each other already. “We had the capability to pivot really quickly.”

Jacobson said she realized quickly that not seeing co-workers face to face daily made it difficult to maintain morale and culture. 

“I immediately recognized the challenges that people who are remote have felt in the past,” she said. “It’s difficult to maintain active relationships when you don’t run into people. So we started doing some things immediately.”

First up was a weekly happy hour. Volunteers have led trivia, hosted games and come up with themes around Broadway or favorite coronavirus memes. Non-obligatory sessions were held from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., and at 8:30 p.m., to accommodate people with children. One person hosted a 7 a.m. workout. But even those fun activities soon lost their luster, Jacobson said.

“They worked well for about the first two or three months, but people got a bit virtual-ed out,” she said. “There were just too many meetings. We had to slow down. Now, I have managers setting up 15-minute check-ins with people every other week and formally once a month, just to see how people are doing and how projects are going.”

Taylor of Coca-Cola has adopted a similar approach. 

“For me, the lesson is brevity,” she said. “We’re mindful of the time span of meetings, having an agenda and yielding the floor to associates so they have an opportunity to be part of the conversation. It’s not just one person talking for 45 minutes. We’re constantly asking about the day-to-day workload and getting feedback.”

That’s an approach endorsed by Katheryn Heinz, a consultant who works with companies on meeting strategies. While virtual events such as birthday celebrations and contests may help morale, a more permanent impact can be made on a company’s culture by ensuring virtual employees are recognized for contributions and productivity, she said. 

“Bonding is important for growth and efficacy, but that’s difficult when you’re staring at someone and yourself [on the screen],” she said. “Sometimes people’s virtual parties build team cohesion, but people also need to see how their contributions are productive, because feeling productive is huge for morale. If a group can creatively come up with solutions or make contributions toward solutions and know how those suggestions will be considered and incorporated, you’ll have a bonded team.”

Employers can build stronger connections while working remotely by acknowledging their employees have lives outside of work that they must deal with as well, she added.

“What people don’t need is their time wasted,” said Heinz. “Loyalty will come if you’re aware of the employee’s whole reality, not just what goes on in a phone call.” 

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Five tips for an engaging online team meeting

1.           Make it meaningful. Have an agenda and stick to it.

2.           Keep it short. 

3.           Consider one-on-one or small group check-ins rather than a massive video call.

4.           Allow time for employees to contribute ideas and brainstorm.

5.           Make social activities voluntary.