For businesses across all sectors, carbon neutrality is rapidly becoming a top priority – and nowhere is this more important than in the coffee sector.
Without the swift introduction of new eco-conscious initiatives, the sector may find itself under threat. According to a study in the Climatic Change journal, it’s estimated that half of the land around the world that is used to produce high-quality coffee could be unproductive by 2050.
Therefore, it is vital that coffee professionals invest in initiatives that ensure the sector can continue to thrive despite the knock-on effects of climate change.
One such approach that has become increasingly popular is attaining the Climate Neutral certification. Businesses with this certification have acknowledged their contribution to carbon emissions and are taking steps to reduce their environmental impact.
Read on to find out more about the Climate Neutral certification, and the benefits it can bring to specialty coffee businesses.
What is Climate Neutral Certified?
The Climate Neutral certification is awarded to companies that have developed a clear strategy for reducing their carbon emissions.
Administered by the non-profit organisation Climate Neutral, it forces businesses to evaluate their current carbon footprint and strive for its reduction. Furthermore, it ensures companies invest the capital needed to make this happen.
Essentially, the organisation’s mission is to eliminate carbon emissions by making climate neutrality something all businesses do.
In order to do this, Climate Neutral has developed a uniform process for all companies looking to earn the certification. What’s more, all of the companies have to adhere to the same set of standards.
The idea behind this is to make it easier for customers to understand the value of the certification. Similarly, customers should be able to trust that companies who display this label are prioritising carbon reduction.
To be accredited, a company must measure its total greenhouse gas emissions for each year. The Climate Neutral website has a specialist Brand Emissions Estimator tool that can help companies make this calculation.
Then, the company will need to outline how it plans to offset its carbon emissions entirely.
Climate Neutral allows companies to do this by purchasing “carbon credits”. These credits possess a value equal to the volume of carbon emissions that have been removed – one carbon credit equates to the removal of one tonne of carbon emissions.
Carbon credits can be earned in a variety of ways, such as the use of renewable energy or through reforestation projects. When a company earns a credit, it is assessed and approved by a third-party.
Finally, the company will need to start reducing its total emissions and consistently report on the progress of initiatives they have in place. Furthermore, the company must set reduction targets for the future.
Climate Neutral requires all of its certified brands to develop a Reduction Action Plan that outlines how they will introduce carbon reduction initiatives over the course of two years.
Even after they are accredited, companies will continue to be monitored and must report their progress annually. The certification process takes up to three months, depending on the size of the company.
Climate Neutral has certified over 300 brands around the world, including food and beverage companies such as Cool Beans, Fetzer, and Hikers Brew Coffee.
Through this website, accredited brands can share their ideas and initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint even further.
Despite the fact it was only founded in 2018, Climate Neutral has already successfully offset over 800,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2).
Why is the Climate Neutral Certification important?
By 2030, the global CO2 emissions need to be reduced by 45% from the levels reached in 2010, according to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
What’s more, the world needs to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. While these goals represent a monumental challenge, it is essential they are met in order to secure a safe future for the planet.
It may be the government’s responsibility to enact environmental legislation, but businesses of all sizes also have a duty to ensure they are contributing to the global effort.
According to Climate Neutral, most brands can start by measuring and offsetting their carbon emissions for less than 0.5% of their revenue. The process is cost effective and, if it is adopted by all businesses, the benefits could be immense.
Studies suggest companies could financially benefit from these initiatives, particularly as a growing number of consumers are choosing to support ethical and sustainable brands.
A 2020 Research Insights survey shows that 71% of people will pay extra for brands that provide traceability. Furthermore, 57% of respondents are willing to change their buying habits to help reduce negative environmental impact.
In light of this, Climate Neutral certification could be an effective way to attract these conscientious consumers.
Once they have earned their accreditation, brands can display the Climate Neutral on their website, products, and packaging. Additionally, they can advertise themselves on the organisation’s website.
This is a great example of how non-profit organisations are encouraging customers to be more eco-conscious. It also makes it easier for customers to turn these principles into actions.
What should roasters consider before applying?
Carbon reduction initiatives are particularly pressing within the coffee industry, as climate change is having a major impact on global coffee production.
Rising temperatures will bring droughts, increase the range of diseases, and kill a number of insects that pollinate coffee plants.
While it is vital that coffee roasters adopt eco-conscious initiatives, there are a few things they should consider before signing up for Climate Neutral certification.
Is this the right certification for my business?
Roasters have options when it comes to finding a suitable carbon neutral certification for their business. These include Carbon Neutral, Carbon Trust, and national government standards, such as Carbon Neutral Britain.
Therefore, it is advisable that roasters read through the benefits and application processes of each, and choose the option best suited to their operations and targets.
Important to note is that this is not a short-term commitment. Roasters will need to spend at least three months working towards the accreditation.
Then, they need to fully commit to their Reduction Action Plan, as their efforts will be assessed annually.
To enrol in the process, roasters will need to purchase carbon credits and pay a certification fee.
Carbon credits are estimated to cost 0.5% to 1% of a company’s revenue, while the certification fee is around $0.75 per tonne of CO2. For some businesses this may not be a concern, however, others may not have the budget.
For roasters with smaller operations, there are numerous ways to start reducing their carbon footprint and demonstrating those efforts to customers.
For example, roasters could pledge to donate 10% of profits to an environmental charity, or choose to invest in sustainable coffee bags.
Whatever eco-conscious route roasters decide to take can be communicated to customers through their coffee packaging and marketing material.
The benefits of attaining a Climate Neutral Certification are invaluable. For consumers, this certification clearly communicates the message that your roastery is conscientious, forward-thinking and environmentally friendly.
And, for the industry as a whole, the certification ensures that roasters are doing their bit to reduce the growing threat of climate change. It’s a stamp roasters can proudly add to coffee packaging, as a testament to their company and its high standards of ethics.
At MTPak Coffee, we can help roasters reduce their carbon footprint by providing sustainable, biodegradable, or compostable coffee packaging options.
Our packaging range features a number of different materials that are all renewable and environmentally friendly including kraft paper, rice paper, LDPE, and PLA.
Furthermore, our sustainable water-based inks can be used to brand your packaging with your carbon reduction initiatives, ensuring your customers know they are supporting an environmentally-friendly business.