3. REDUCING OUR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
Climate change remains the most significant perceived risk for coffee producers in our supply chain. Sadly, the more severe impacts were not difficult to miss in 2019-20, with heavier rainfall patterns causing flooding and landslides, which affected the ASOCAFE cooperative in Bolivia; the MEACCE cooperative in Uganda; and cooperatives in western Honduras. The evidence continues to present a stark warning to all involved in the coffee industry. Actions to mitigate our climate change impacts need to be taken now.
“Today nearly half (47%) of current coffee production comes from countries, including powerhouses like Brazil, India, and Nicaragua, predicted to lose more than 60% of their suitable coffee areas by 2050 [due to climate change].”
– World Coffee Research Annual Report, 2017
Our commitment to reducing and offsetting our emissions continues, with more details on our footprint in 2019 and the achievement of carbon neutral given below. This is an ongoing journey for us, as we look for ways to increase the scope of our assessment and increase data visibility.
We are pleased with the progress made in improving the efficiency of our roastery in 2019, for example:
- From our 2018 baseline we have reduced the amount of non-production water used per £1,000 company turnover by 8.9%, compared to our goal of 5%.
- We have been targeting a zero absolute increase in electricity usage from our 2017 baseline and we have so far achieved a 3% decrease.
- Our total waste per tonne of roasted coffee has decreased by 7.5% from our 2017 baseline, comparing favourably to our target of 5%.
We are conscious we could do better, and the 2019 results have demonstrated a need to push for further innovation in how we heat our premises, but also in fuel efficiency of car journeys made by our staff.
The significant impact that COVID-19 has had on our business in 2020 has made it challenging to fairly compare our environmental key performance indicators with 2019 and previous years. However, our sections on Data and on COVID-19 in this report provide more detail on how the indicators have been impacted by restrictions in the UK.
Carbon Neutral Roasting
Our reporting methodology is based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Reporting Standard and we have categorised the emissions into three areas – Scope 1, 2 and 3 – accordingly, with one source, sitting outside of these scopes also being included this year.
The utility usage information currently relates to our main site roastery in Glasgow as we do not have accurate data for our training premises in Dublin or London. The indirect, Scope 3 emissions include business travel, water consumption, waste, losses during electricity distribution, fuel consumption in vehicles, and product distribution.
We are committed to increasing the boundaries of our annual assessment as new data becomes available. In 2019 we added the following:
- Liquid nitrogen - We found a suitable carbon factor to allow us to include our nitrogen usage in our calculations.
- Hotels - We increased our Scope 3 emissions to include the emissions associated with employees' use of hotels.
- Well-to-tank – We included the emissions associated with the extraction, refining and transportation of primary fuels associated with the use of gas, electricity and transport.
Our 2019 Footprint
Our carbon footprint for the 2019 calendar year was 2,633 tCO2e. The findings tell us that there are two key areas contributing more than 50% of our greenhouse gas emissions – namely, fuel used in leased vehicles for field staff and our gas usage at our roastery.
Sitting behind this are four other key areas also contributing significantly to our footprint – electricity, liquid nitrogen, product deliveries, and business travel by plane.
To make a fair comparison of our performance year on year, we have also analysed our footprint only including the same core emissions data that we started measuring in 2016. In these areas, there has been a decrease of 8% in our emissions since 2016.
The biggest improvements during this period have been in our direct emissions from electricity and freighting goods, both of which have decreased by 40% since 2016.
Carbon Neutral Gold standard
2019 is the second consecutive year that we have achieved carbon neutral status! The data collection and calculations are underway to realize this for 2020 as well.
Working with One Carbon World we verify our carbon footprint methodology and results, and offset our emissions through United Nations Clean Development Mechanism programmes and forestation projects in South America.
The forestation project that we purchased credits from in 2019 was the Guanare Project in Uruguay. 21,000 hectares have been converted from grassland primarily used for rearing beef cattle to forest plantations, helping the planet adapt to a changing climate by providing crucial storm water management and ideal wildlife habitat. It is also helping to restore healthy soils eroded during the 300 years of extensive grazing.
Additional to the environmental benefits, the project has provided crucial jobs in this rural setting and supported the development of rural schools through the provision of resources. Critically, the project has been proven to meet the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and was independently validated by the Rainforest Alliance. This forestation project is also certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC), an internationally renowned program that sets the gold standard for responsible forest management.
As part of our commitment to remain carbon neutral, we have joined the Climate Neutral Now initiative. This scheme was launched by the UN in 2015, aiming at encouraging and supporting all levels of society to take climate action to achieve a climate-neutral world by mid-century, as enshrined in the Paris Agreement.
The Cup Movement
It is estimated that 478 million single-use cups are used in Scotland each year and approximately 95 million of these are used in our community in greater Glasgow. Unfortunately, the waterproof plastic lining on paper cups means that very few are currently recycled and the remainder often end up in landfill or as litter on our roadsides.
Cup Movement® is an ambitious city-wide campaign from environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful. The first of its kind in the UK, it aims to reduce the use of paper cups, minimise litter from cups and facilitate paper cup recycling across Glasgow.
69% of people in Glasgow choose to recycle their cups, but only 12% do so properly, with 26% putting them in paper recycling and 31% putting them in mixed recycling. Only 19% of people in Glasgow use a reusable cup, and only 5% do so regularly.
- Consumer Insights from polling carried out in May 2019 by Keep Scotland Beautiful
Our Involvement A collaborative approach can often provide the silver bullet where sustainability challenges seem insurmountable, so we were delighted to become a member of the scheme. We sought to encourage our Glasgow-based customers to consider joining us in becoming members through publicising our involvement on our websites and social media channels.
Furthermore, we broadened our range of reusable cups in our Espresso Warehouse catalogue by launching rCUPs – the world's first reusable coffee cup made from used paper cups - and we offered a 20% discount on our range of reusable KeepCups and rCUPs to Cup Movement members.
Impact in Phase One In light of the current situation with COVID-19, the Cup Movement is currently on hold. However, phase one, up until early 2020, has involved some really exciting activities and the learnings from these have laid the groundwork for future work in this area. For full details, check out their latest impact report here.
- The Cup Movement worked with recycling partners Simply Cups and Scotwaste to set up the first dedicated cup collection and recycling service in Scotland, resulting in upwards of 500,000 single-use cups being recycled.
- Alongside partners Costa, McDonald's, Pret and Starbucks, the #TakeItBack initiative provided Glaswegians with 68 sites where they could recycle cups. New messaging to promote this has been added to the Councils blue recycling bins in the city centre.
- Cup Movement engaged consumers on the facts and calls-to-action by rolling out campaign assets such as posters and hosting engagement events at Glasgow Central Station and the TRNSMT Festival.
- Working with Excel Vending and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, Cup Movement brought 200 of DS Smith’s Coffee Cup Drop Boxes to SMEs in Glasgow. The Coffee Cup Drop Box are a low-cost, low-commitment option, ideal for smaller sites, or for larger sites that want to trial cup recycling. They can hold up to 700 used cups and are collected on request by Royal Mail, free of charge.
DS Smith’s Drop Boxes are available to order throughout the UK.