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Bca announces white paper to help UK coffee industry embed circular economy

CHARLBURY, Oxon, UK – The British Coffee Association (BCA) published yesterday a white paper, Bean to Bin and Beyond, which details the progress, barriers and opportunities in embedding a fully circular economy in the UK coffee industry.

Aiming to become the first industry to achieve a fully circular supply chain in the UK, the report sets out a clear framework to help BCA members and the industry-at-large achieve this ambition.

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Bean to Bin and Beyond includes seven goals to pave the way for the coffee industry to achieve key principles of circularity, in line with the Governments 25-year environmental plan which sets out the UK’s vision to reduce waste and our environmental impact.

These BCA goals for the coffee industry include achieving zero waste packaging by 2025 with 100% recyclable or re-usable packaging across all products with 0% of waste going to landfill.

Published to mark the beginning of UK Recycling Week, the white paper builds on the sustainability BCA Sustainability Mission published by the trade organisation last September and recognises that there are a great number of opportunities to be harnessed and an equal number of challenges yet to be overcome in order to achieve a sustainable circular economy.

Amongst the key challenges to overcome that are identified is closer industry collaboration and, vitally, stronger government commitment in expanding existing recycling infrastructure available in the UK and improving consistency in material recycling across local authorities.

The report also highlights the progress made to date, detailing a number of key sustainability initiatives underway across the industry including the circularity from the capturing of waste coffee grounds to embedding green transport infrastructure, to supporting farms in origin countries in reducing waste and improving efficiency.

Chris Stemman, Executive Director of the British Coffee Association (BCA), said:

We are committed to supporting our members and the industry as a whole achieve a truly circular economy in the UK coffee industry. Sustainability sits at the heart of our organization and as a collaborative body that brings together a multitude of coffee companies in the UK, we are perfectly placed to lead and champion an initiative such as this.

The publication of this report shows just how far the UK industry has come in the last few years with regards to sustainability and the environment. The report outlines some great progress and fantastic projects that are really getting to the heart of the issues and we are committed to continuing to support this work and addressing the gaps that remain. Vitally, however, the white paper also provides focus for what we need to do better to achieve our stated goals whilst also calling on and supporting UK government to improve and make more consistent the UK recycling capability across the country.

The latest statistics from the BCA show that 95 million cups of coffee are consumed every day in the UK. As consumer demand continues to increase, the sector is taking steps to ensure that circularity of material use and re-use is central to the development of coffee supply chain strategies.

José Sette, Executive Director of the International Coffee Organization (ICO) said:

It’s is hugely encouraging to see that the BCA has set sustainability so high on their agenda. The UK coffee industry has seen impressive growth across the sector and contributes around £10bn to the UK economy, so to see such important leadership in promoting and advancing sustainability through the circular economy is hugely important and we encourage wider industry sectors to do the same.

Central to the Bean to Bin and Beyond white paper is the identification of seven goals that will form a framework for the UK coffee industry to help achieve a fully sustainable circular coffee economy:

  1. Zero-waste packaging by 2025 – aim to switch to 100% recyclable or re-usable packaging across all products within the next seven years with 0% of waste going to landfill.
  2. Support the BCA in encouraging the UK Government to expand investment in recycling and waste management infrastructure, including investment in composting facilities and the improvement of waste collection infrastructure across Local Authorities and individual household.
  3. Responsible sourcing of all packaging materials – including plastic, paper, cardboard, and aluminium through enhanced supply chain transparency, traceability and investment in technologies that reduce waste to landfill.
  4. UK coffee companies to conduct lifecycle assessments (LCA’s) across their supply chains to identify opportunities to create efficiencies, minimise waste and potential to improve circularity.
  5. Evidenced industry commitment to creating initiatives that help consumers understand how and where to recycle used coffee products and materials – including education through best practice examples and recommendations. This can be supported by improved transparency in labelling and on-pack recycling information as well as the creation of digital technology such as recycling apps and other tools that will help educate as well as inspire consumers to change their behaviour around the use, re-use and recycling of materials in their daily coffee products.
  6. Optimal transportation routes to be viewed and reviewed by all UK coffee companies with sharing of best practice – across supply chains both within the UK and globally, companies should look to minimise carbon usage through transportation and drive adoption of green technology through their transportation networks.
  7. Encouraging the adoption of the circular economy principles in the production and processing stages at origin – this represents a way of supporting coffee producers’ efforts to adapt to and mitigate the negative impacts of climate change while helping to reduce the environmental impact of coffee farming.

The BCA exists for members to work collaboratively, bringing together organisations from across the supply chain, to achieve consensus around these challenges and opportunities whilst working towards a circular economy.

The BCA supports individual members in their own efforts to drive sustainability in order to protect the needs and interest of people and the environment throughout supply chains to enable a thriving and sustainable coffee industry, both now and for the future.

The full Bean to Bin and Beyond report is available upon request.