Waste Not, Want Not: Future Proof Your Business
Brands are increasingly coming under the microscope when it comes to sustainability and environmental issues; considerate consumption has made a shift from consumer choice to consumer necessity.
In the spirit of learning from the best in their sector, we caught up with Julie Gallacher, Corporate Communications and Sustainability Lead for Nespresso.
Nespresso has a responsible business model that ensures sustainable coffee sourcing, creates opportunities to recycle and reuse aluminium, and takes global action on climate change. Their dedication to improving the quality of their products and services, as well as the social and environmental aspects of their business, was hugely inspiring for us.
Why has sustainability become such an important topic to consumers and brands?
Nespresso, like many brands, use natural resources to make products. Due to climate change and population growth, these resources are not finite, for example Arabica beans could disappear before 2050. It makes sense for us to focus on this, to future proof our business.
Consumers are also more engaged in this topic now; it’s not just from niche groups, but in the mainstream consciousness, thanks to shocking and brilliant documentaries like Planet Earth, The 11th Hour, and The True Cost. Brands are jumping on the bandwagon, but they often don’t present the full story. Consumers are looking into alternatives, and businesses need to act, especially to future-proof their brand.
What do/don’t customers understand about sustainability?
Most consumers think that “Sustainability” is about climate change and environmental damage but sustainability is much wider than this. It is about societal issues such as gender imbalance , LGBT , pay gap between men & women - topics often considered in the realm of HR but are very much part of the wider sustainability agenda.
I think that consumers being more conscious of where their products are coming from & wanting to know more about the company values and practises behind their favourite brands is a good thing because it puts pressure on businesses to behave in the correct way.
What sustainability initiatives are Nespresso working on?
We are working on many sustainability initiatives, many of which are developed through collaborations with NGOs, governments & specialists in their field. Our direct to consumer business model means we have clear visibility of our value chain from cherry to cup.
As a business we depend on a reliable source of quality coffee. The majority of our coffee is grown by smallholder farmers in tropical regions , who face intense challenges related to climate change. To help farmers and to guarantee the supply of high quality beans , we developed our AAA Sustainable Quality Program. In partnership with RFA, the program works directly with more than 100k coffee farmers in 13 countries, fostering long-term relationships, improving the environmental conditions on their farms and surrounding landscapes, as well as paying farmers premium prices for their beans.
We are also working on achieving 100% sustainably managed aluminium. We use aluminium to package our coffee because it has the dual benefit of protecting the freshness , quality and taste of our coffee and being infinitely recyclable, meaning that if recycled, it can be reused to make other products eg. beverage cans , car spare parts even new capsules. However aluminium is often associated with a number of other sustainability issues, this is why we are one of the founding members of the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative, set up with the International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN) in 2009 to create the first standard for responsible aluminium sourcing and production.
The list is long and we cannot achieve our ambitions or combat the challenges of climate change on our own. We work with many partners to develop and ensure sustainable practices to make an impact.
As Julie has outlined above, brands have struggled to get a complete picture of the impact of their operations, and as a result, a firm grip over their sustainability. According to the BoF, and McKinsey & Co 2019 State of Fashion report “nine out of ten Gen Z consumers believe companies have a responsibility to address environment and social issues.”
The recent FT ArcelorMittal Boldness in Business Awards provide excellent examples of sustainable brands, and in the words of Robert Armstrong this “requires intelligence, invention, courage and verve”
A bold business is a sustainable one.