Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Coffee maker optimistic that it will reach targets

July 2011

Global coffee business Nespresso has announced ‘strong progress’ towards its 2013 sustainability targets, two years after launching an ‘ecolaboration’ programme that aims to improve its social and environmental impacts

A progress report issued by the Nestle-owned company this month shows that during 2010 it sourced 60 per cent of its green coffee from sustainable sources under its own Rainforest Alliance certified AAA Sustainability Quality Programme – putting it on track for its target of sourcing 80 per cent of coffee sustainably by 2013.

On other key indicators, it had increased to 60 per cent its capacity to recycle the capsules used in its coffee machines – indicating that it will therefore reach its 2013 commitment of 75 per cent capacity two years early  – and it had also reduced its carbon footprint per cup of coffee by 11 per cent from 2009 to 2010, putting it well on track to meet its commitment of a 20 per cent reduction by 2013.

Nespresso set up its ecolaboration programme in 2009 as part of a commitment to improve and maintain the quality of its coffee, which is aimed at the high end of the consumer market. It believes that by guaranteeing to pay farmers 30 per cent above New York coffee exchange prices – and providing them with training, technical assistance and better access to microfinance – it will be able to raise the quality of coffee grown. Only two per cent of the world’s crop currently meets Nespresso requirements.

Its AAA programme now runs in six of the nine countries that supply it with coffee (Nicaragua, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica) , and by the end of 2010 more than 40,000 farmers had joined, up from 33,000 taking part in 2009.

Measurements of the impact of the AA programme in Central America show that on average farmer incomes were 27 per cent higher in real terms than for those who were not part of the programme.  Farmers are not tied to producing for Nespresso, so also benefit because they are now producing Rainforest Alliance certified coffee that can be sold across the market. Nespresso pays the first year of certification audit costs.

Outside of the coffee growing sphere, Nespresso has managed to reduce the carbon footprint per cup of coffee through the introduction of new espresso machines that have automatic standby or power-off modes. But it has also made gains at its production centre in Switzerland, where an energy recovery system has cut the energy needed to roast green coffee by 15 per cent.

Richard Girardot, Nespresso chief executive, said the progress report showed ‘concrete measurable progress towards the commitments we made for coffee production,  capsule recycling and carbon reduction’.

But he added: ‘Even more important than that is how embedded sustainability has truly become into the way we are doing business’.

Chris Wille, chief of sustainable agriculture for the Rainforest Alliance, said Nespresso had ‘worked dilligently’ to meet its goals.

Nespresso | Global | Sustainability

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