How The Coffee Industry Is Tackling Its Environmental Impact

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Latte by Michael Allan Smith via Flickr

The popularity of coffee continues to rise and shows no signs of abating. You only need to look at your local high street or shopping center to see a new coffee shop appearing almost weekly. The increasing consumption of coffee brings with it environmental challenges but it is fair to say that the coffee industry is taking positive action to tackle these issues head on.

Here are some of the positive steps they are taking to reduce the environmental impact

  • Offering customers incentives to bring their own reusable cups. – In the United States alone 25 billion disposable cups a year are thrown away, causing huge environmental waste and damage. By offering a financial incentive to their customers, the coffee companies are prepared to absorb the cost of this discount, in order to tackle this unnecessary waste.
  • The Rainforest Alliance – This organization is solely focused on environmental issues, it’s main aims being to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods. The strategies used to deliver on these aims include education for the coffee farmer’s in how to properly maintain their land, and how to develop and grow their businesses. There is also a sustained consumer awareness program, to ensure that consumers make informed and educated decisions regarding their purchasing options.
  • Sustainable Agricultural Network – to a become certified coffee grower, with the SAN you must fulfill certain criteria, which includes the banning of deforestation. Any farms where there is evidence of deforestation after 2005 are currently forbidden from gaining certification. Since 1992, more than 1,600 certificates for more than one million farms – have been issued, including small family farms of cooperatives, as well as plantations – in over 40 countries, which clearly demonstrates that the message is getting through and that there is significant value in gaining the certification.
  • Making Use Of The Waste Products Created By Coffee Production – Unfortunately, in the process of growing and manufacturing coffee, there is lots of wastage created. Before the recent drive towards treating the environment better, the vast majority of the by-products were simply thrown away, or wasted.

However, recent breakthroughs in technology and research have ascertained that there are in fact many valuable uses for those so-called waste products. One of the biggest discoveries was that coffee pulp could replace up to 20% of the commercial concentrates used in cattle feed with no subsequent difference in weight gain or nutritional content. Regarding a financial boost to the agricultural economy of coffee growing countries, this presents a vital shot in the arm as well as reducing wastage.

There is no doubt that the coffee growing community has a long way to go with regards to its environmental impact, but progress has and will continue to be made. By educating the growers, and enabling them to build sustainable businesses correctly, there is a win-win situation for everyone. Coffee consumers around the world get the best product; the farmers are suitably compensated, and the environment is protected for future generations.

When it comes to buying your coffee products, please take into consideration the environmental impacts, and buy from a company such as A1 Coffee, a company that supports environmental production. It is only by empowering the growers that produce coffee in the right way, that we can change the industry positively.