I have been thinking about sustainability a lot. Sustainability is something that’s likely always been in the back of my mind and we probably already do a lot of it at work without thinking. However, I think that making a concerted effort to do it right, is better for the environment as we move towards being a more progressive business. This and future posts will form the basis of a more cohesive plan around sustainability and ultimately arrive at a Sustainability Policy for our company.
So where to begin? I thought it best to start with documenting some of the ‘easy wins’, or things that we’ve already made goo headway with. Then move on to looking at each division within the company and dissect what aspects of its function we can improve with regard to its environmental impact.
Power. Our roaster uses Propane for combustion, but I’ll approach that later in our sustainability journey. The main power consumption in the roastery is electricity. When we picked up the keys to our new roastery space in July 2019, one of the first fit-out projects was to upgrade the lighting. Removing the old bulb strip lights in favour of LED warehouse lights was a significant expense, but the payback in a reduction of power consumption will be significant, both in economic terms as well its impact on sustainability. We also to the opportunity to split the lighting in to two zones. This helps us use banks of lighting over areas that are in use and not consume power in areas that aren’t.
Waste. We try and recycle as much as we can. Improvements can be made, and we’re working on plans to expand on what we recycle and how it’s monitored. One aspect of our waste control that I’m certain we’re doing a good job on is composting the chaff produced as a roasting byproduct. All of it is picked up by my family to use on their land. This offer is extended to any keen gardener who visits the roastery. Our coffee sacks are also reused. Most are re-purposed by people for decorations, cushions, or sack races at local schools. We have further ideas on how to improve and expand on their reuse and will write about this at a later point.
Shipping and packing. Our local wholesale customers will be used to seeing transport crates used to deliver coffee to cafes. Those further afield receive cardboard boxes. I’m sure there is a better solution to this, and will be an area that I will focus on soon. Recently we’ve seen a noticeable increase in people purchasing online while in COVID-19 lock down. Katie and I are acutely aware of our current poor choice in shipping material – bubble envelopes, plastic document wallets and standard packing tape. We’re changing this now and will be trialling paper envelopes, biodegradable document wallets and paper tape in the coming days. We’re also aware that our foil lined coffee bags can be improved on and are actively investigating options on new bags. Again, I’ll address this in a future post once we’ve trialled the options available and made our final decision on bag manufacturer and material.
The journey to a more environmentally sustainable future will not be an overnight process. However, I believe that by being more transparent about how the business operates, and charting the progress, we will be able to make a positive impact.
To be continued.