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Nespresso shows industry leadership at World Conservation Congress

17 October 2012 | Jeju, REBUPLIC OF KOREA – Nespresso demonstrated its leadership in sustainable business practice at the world’s largest and most important conservation event, the IUCN World Conservation Congress.


Global Leaders in dialogue on sustainability

IUCN Korea 

Today more than ever, awareness is growing about the important role businesses have in tackling global sustainability issues. As a key industry player in sustainable business practice, Nespresso joined the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) at its 2012 World Conservation Congress (WCC) held this September on the Korean island of Jeju. Held every four years, it aims to improve how we manage our natural environment for human, social and economic development.

Founded in 1948, the IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organisation, with more than 1,200 member organisations. IUCN offers a neutral forum for governments, NGOs, scientists, businesses and local communities to find pragmatic solutions to environmental and development challenges.

“Since working with Nespresso, we’ve come to appreciate the company’s openness and willingness to engage with different stakeholders. The company has shown leadership in working together with others to remove roadblocks on the road to greater sustainability,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General of IUCN.


Taking the lead in aluminium

In 2009, Nespresso started working with IUCN to co-convene an industry roundtable on improving the sustainability performance of aluminium, which Nespresso uses in small quantity for its capsules. As co-founder of the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI), Nespresso takes its leadership beyond recycling. By 2014, and as announced during the IUCN congress in Korea, the ASI will develop the first Responsible Aluminium Standard, providing a framework to improve the sustainability performance and reputation of the aluminium industry as a whole.

As part of the collaboration with the IUCN, Nespresso was both a participant as well as a sponsor of the 2012 IUCN World Conservation Congress. During the weeklong event, Nespresso engaged with IUCN members and other companies working with IUCN, as well as with academics and journalists from around the world to learn and to share experiences in sustainability.


Exploring best practices in conservation and sustainability

In a series of workshops and “knowledge cafés”, Nespresso engaged with congress delegates to explore best practices in conservation and sustainability. Examples were drawn from the Nespresso Ecolaboration™ initiative to demonstrate how the company creates shared value while integrating sustainability throughout all aspects of its business.

IUCN Nespresso booth
The Nespresso booth at the World Conservation Congress

Christophe Boussemart, Sustainable Development Project Manager for Nespresso, discussed the way companies can understand and improve the environmental performance of their products by using life cycle assessment (LCA). Since 2005, Nespresso has been using LCA as a tool to gauge the overall environmental impact of its products on climate change, energy, water, biodiversity and human health. Now, Nespresso is expanding its use of the tool, exploring how to integrate field knowledge into LCA to improve its biodiversity model and results.

The implementation of LCA is important now more than ever, according to Sebastien Humbert, Vice-president of Quantis, a leading LCA consultancy based in Switzerland. “In my opinion, in order to achieve sustainability, every product put on the market should undergo an LCA to assure it has lower impact than what was previously available. The current speed at which global biodiversity is decreasing is so high that LCA addressing biodiversity will need to be systematically integrated into R&D in less than 10 years.”


Overcoming roadblocks to biodiversity

Jérôme Perez, Head of Ecolaboration™, discussed the potential synergies between business companies and conservation organisations, and underlined the urgency of overcoming hurdles to make business sustainability mainstream.

“While there are excellent examples of multi-stakeholder business collaborations developing approaches for sustainable sourcing, biodiversity loss remains alarming, so we need to identify the roadblocks to scaling up and make recommendations to lift them,” he said.

Drawing on experience from the AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program that Nespresso developed together with the international nongovernmental organisation Rainforest Alliance, he pointed out that roadblocks to sustainability can come from all stakeholders. Conservationists might assume that companies are not interested in cooperation, while companies might not recognize the payback of sustainability investments. Consumers might be disinterested. Farmers might be resistant to change.

The key to overcoming such hurdles lies in education and close collaboration. Perez noted how consumer awareness of sustainability drives customer satisfaction and advocacy, enhancing the total brand experience. He also explained how Nespresso has worked closely with Rainforest Alliance to show coffee farmers the benefits of adopting new practices in a supportive, pragmatic way.

According to Mohammad Rafiq, senior vice president of programs at the Rainforest Alliance, the success of the approach taken by Nespresso and Rainforest Alliance seems to rest in the combination of productivity and quality expertise with sustainability know-how.


Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program comes to life

Nespresso invited its partners in coffee sourcing to help bring its AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program to life for the key opinion leaders and NGOs attending the World Conservation Congress. Juan Carlos Ardila, Managing Director and founder of Cafexport in Colombia, a key partner that implements the AAA Program in the regions of Caldas and Antioquia in Colombia, explained the collaboration between his team and Nespresso to integrate small-scale coffee growers into the AAA Sustainable Quality™ supply chain.

Luz Marina Restrepo
Luz Marina Restrepo, a sustainability innovator and coffee
farmer from Colombia participating in the Nespresso
AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program, was at IUCN to share
her practical insights on putting biodiversity into practice.

Colombian coffee farmer and sustainability innovator Luz Marina Restrepo was also present at the conference to share her insight on putting biodiversity into practice.

In her experience, the main obstacles to sustainability are “accessibility of technology to implement practices – for example septic tanks to process the polluted water, and getting the right advice to learn how to take care of farm management.”

As a participant in the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program since 2008, she has learned a great deal: “How to avoid contamination from waste water, which practices to avoid, like burning soil, and how to take care of the species on my farm.” Through the AAA Program, she has gained insight on how environmental protection affects the quality, sustainability and productivity of her coffee farm. Meanwhile, new technology is helping her share her learnings across the whole farmer network.

“For us, nature is what matters. Since taking part in the program my farm has changed 100%, because I am more diligent, I understand the importance of environment, do not use toxic chemicals, and pay full attention to the high quality standards in the coffee processing.”



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