Home » Sustainable Business » Time to accelerate the sustainability agenda

Guillaume Chesneau

Managing Director, Nespresso UK & ROI

As sustainability is high on the global agenda, businesses need to show, more than ever, their commitment to tackling climate change.

How long do we have to save the planet?

In 2018, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that we must keep the rise in global temperatures below 1.5°C,1 which would require a 45% reduction2 in carbon emissions by 2030. At our current emissions rates, we will reach 1.5°C in just over seven years.3

It is not hyperbolic to express that we are reaching a crossroads and bold steps are urgently needed to win this race against time.

Less talk, more action

Businesses must face up to their sustainability challenges and they must do this now. Pressure on the sustainability efforts of multinational companies has been growing for some years but, while there are many good examples of work taking place to tackle environmental issues, there has been too much focus on rhetoric. Now is the time for action. 

Consumers demand it, too. An IPSOS study earlier this year found that 71% of the public globally agree that climate change is as serious in the long-term as the global pandemic.4 If we don’t continue to improve our impact on the planet, our business won’t have longevity. It is not only good business sense, but an ethical approach that today consumers expect from all corporations.

Our responsibility on this front is something we’re acutely aware of. Take public perceptions around portioned coffee, for example – while Nespresso established a dedicated recycling scheme in the UK 10 years ago, we understand that more must be done to make our business more circular. Other coffee pod brands share this objective, which is why we are coming together to start a new UK-wide recycling scheme for our products, and tackle this challenge as an industry. 

Research has shown that 90% of UK consumers want to recycle coffee pods through their household recycling. Podback will enable them to do that for the first time – but we need other brands, retailers and local authorities to join us and ensure the scheme has maximum impact.

The new Podback recycling scheme will enable UK consumers to recycle their capsules in several easy ways, including kerbside collection for the first time. Exeter City Council, Cheltenham Borough Council and South Derbyshire District Council are in advanced discussions with Podback to become the first confirmed local authority partners.

Over the next decade, corporations need to stay ahead of the curve, maintain relevance, and work together to drive meaningful, positive change.

Paying lip-service to sustainability is not enough.

Becoming carbon neutral by 2022

Looking ahead, our goal is that customers will be able to drink a carbon neutral cup of coffee5 by the end of 2022. It is an ambition that we are confident of reaching. Our plan is clear, and threefold.

Firstly, a crucial action is to further decarbonise our value chain. In practice, this means driving towards 100% renewable energy in all of our global boutiques. Additionally, we are increasing the use of recycled plastic within our machines, as well as using more recycled and low carbon virgin aluminium in our coffee capsules.

Following the launch of 80% recycled aluminium capsules earlier this year, our aim is for all coffee ranges to be made using recycled aluminium by the end of 2021.

Secondly, we are investing in insetting initiatives globally – planting trees in coffee farms and the surrounding landscapes that will capture carbon from the atmosphere.

These processes also provide crucial shade that helps crops to grow, and roots that protect against soil erosion and landslides, while promoting soil regeneration.

Thirdly, we are also investing in Gold Standard offsetting initiatives that support forest conservation and restoration, as well as implementing clean energy solutions within farming communities globally.

Getting on track to net zero

All of the above actions have not been taken lightly, and have already required significant investment, time and passion from across the business and our partners.

I’m proud that we’re taking these steps to push not only our own green agenda, but to hopefully encourage others in the industry and beyond to follow suit and accelerate their sustainability programmes.

We know well that the public won’t accept half-measures – businesses must be fully committed to achieving a sustainable future.

1 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report
2 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-48964736
3 https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change-clock-nyc-carbon-emissions-art-b580249.html
4 https://www.ipsos.com/en/two-thirds-citizens-around-world-agree-climate-change-serious-crisis-coronavirus
5 https://www.nestle-nespresso.com/news/every-cup-of-nespresso-coffee-will-be-carbon-neutral-by-2022

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