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Coca-Cola sustainability expert puts the fizz into new guest lecture initiative

Jess Gray

Students seeking a career in sustainability are being given direct access to some of the most influential experts in the industry thanks to the University of Northampton.

Professor of Sustainable Wastes Management at the University, Margaret Bates – herself a leading global authority on sustainability – has pulled out some significant names from her contacts book and invited them to take part in a series of virtual seminars with undergraduates.

Head of Sustainability at Coca-Cola European Partners, Nick Brown, was the first industry guest to speak with students, when he outlined the challenges one of the world’s biggest brands faces as it endeavours to increase its rates of recycling and reduction of waste and energy use.

During Tuesday’s seminar, Nick also spent time answering questions from students, who are on a variety of courses at the University, including Environmental Science and Wastes Management.

Professor Bates said: “What I really liked was that Mark referred to the students as thought leaders and I think this empowers them to achieve.

“The students all realise that industry leaders, people in important positions and who work for organisations that are world leading, are willing to invest their time and expertise in helping them to succeed. This not only broadens their study but also opens up their ideas about where and what they can do and what a difference they can make.

“We have an amazing line up of speakers arranged throughout the year and I am really proud that I have the calibre of students that reward the speakers’ investment in them – helping to increase their subject knowledge and employability.”

Environmental Science final year student, Jess Gray, was impressed with Nick Brown’s seminar. She said: “It was so useful to be able to hear from somebody who is at the very top of the sector, to find out their perspective on the industry. Now is the time I am starting to think about applying for jobs and work placements, and these lectures really open my eyes to the different opportunities that are out there.”

Future guests booked for the weekly virtual seminars include representatives from Japanese multinational electronics firm Ricoh, the Institution of Civil Engineers and global recycling giant Suez.

The seminars are all concerned with the circular economy – an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) – in which resources are kept in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them whilst in use, before recovering and regenerating products and materials at the end of each service life.