Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) studies allow us to measure the environmental impact of a cup of Nespresso, and look for ways to reduce it.
Nespresso conducted its first Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) in 2009, with consultancy firm Quantis – an industry leader in this type of research. LCA is a method of calculating the environmental impact of a product and considers aspects such as the amount of carbon used in production or transport, greenhouse gas emissions and water use. Nespresso looks at each stage of the coffee’s journey, from the tree to the last sip – and even beyond.
The Life Cycle Analysis studies have shown that one of the biggest environmental impacts comes from the way coffee is prepared. Factors such as how much energy is needed to heat the water and how much coffee is wasted can have a significant impact on the results. Nespresso’s LCAs measure every aspect of how coffee is prepared, from the energy the machine uses to the water required to wash the cup.
When making filter coffee, the environmental impact can vary depending on how it is prepared. For example, people tend to make too much coffee, keep it warm for too long and end up throwing the excess away. Coffee in a foil pouch quickly loses freshness once it has been opened and ends up in the bin.
Although a portioned coffee system like Nespresso uses single packaging, it optimizes resources through precision-consumption. Our system uses only the exact amount of coffee beans, water and energy needed to brew a single cup, saving resources, reducing waste and minimising the carbon footprint with consistent results, time after time.
Another major contributor to the environmental impact of coffee is at the agricultural stage. How much water is used in farming, carbon emissions from the agricultural processes, and any waste resulting from the farming stage must all be taken into account. Through the Nespresso AAA Sustainable QualityTM Programme, we are working directly with the farmers who grow our coffee to help them decrease the environmental impact of agricultural production.
Following its first LCA in 2009, Nespresso committed to reducing the carbon footprint of a cup of its coffee by 28% by 2020. We are doing this by improving the energy efficiency of machines, powering our business operations with renewable energy, supporting farmers in climate-smart agricultural practices, using more recycling plastics in our machines, moving towards the new Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) standard low-carbon aluminium and increasing the recycling of our capsules after use.
Several LCAs on coffee have been peer-reviewed and are publicly available. Nespresso has collated the results of these studies in a summary, available here.