“Coffee farmers in producing countries are already bearing the brunt of climate change and impacts Bewley’s business directly. Our approach to sustainability is integrated throughout our entire organisation and outwards into the communities who we support and rely on for our business to be successful. This is underpinned by our commitment to ethical trading, environmental sustainability and corporate responsibility. We are very pleased to be an Origin Green company which provides a valuable Irish and international endorsement of our long standing commitment.”
Jim Corbett, Marketing Director, Bewley’s.
About the Company
Bewley’s is the largest and most recognised tea and fresh coffee brand in Ireland. While Bewley’s is most famous for its iconic café in Dublin’s Grafton St., its core business is the provision of fresh coffee and related hot beverage solutions to its customers. Bewley’s manufactures and distributes its coffee and tea products to many foodservice and retail outlets in Ireland and the UK.
This Irish, family-owned company was established in 1840, and now forms part of the Campbell Bewley Group. It is the largest coffee roaster in Ireland, employing in excess of 170 employees in its 110,000 sq.ft. coffee and tea manufacturing facility and offices in North Dublin. Annually, the plant processes over 3,000 tonnes of coffee and it is Ireland’s leading fresh brand of coffee. The company was founded by the Bewley family based on Quaker roots and its business strategy is centred on producing excellent, quality product and product innovation. Bewley’s has many firsts; it was the first company to import tea directly into Ireland in 1835, thereby breaking the East India Company’s monopoly.
From its origins in the tea trade the Bewley’s business expanded into coffee importation, roasting and distribution and the operation of coffee shops, most notably the legendary Grafton Street Café, which was opened by Ernest Bewley in 1927 and continues to flourish to this day. Bewley’s was the first to import Fairtrade coffee into Ireland, the first to import Cup of Excellence coffees into Ireland and the first certified carbon neutral coffee roaster in Ireland. The company believes that all companies have a duty to act fairly in business, in a way that does not disadvantage those it does business with. This helps the company to achieve high quality products for its customers, at a fair price.
Sustainability at Bewley’s
Sustainability is at the core of the company’s philosophy. From its origins as a Quaker-owned company, it has always endeavoured to do business fairly. It sources all its produce ethically and has direct partnerships with coffee growers in Nicaragua, Honduras, Brazil and Colombia. But its initial view of sustainability has since been broadened to address ecological issues, mainly the impact of its operations on the environment, as well as including initiatives strengthening involvement in the local community.
Today, it holds many accreditations in relation to its sustainability performance. The company has been implementing an ISO14001-based environmental management system since 2004. It attained ISO140064-1 attestation of CO2 emissions and was the first certified carbon neutral coffee company in Ireland in 2009.
On reflection of obtaining this certification in 2009, Managing Director, Jim Corbett stated, “It’s the old business mantra ‘what gets measured, gets managed’ ”. In 2006 senior management set targets to reduce the company’s carbon footprint. In the first year, Bewley’s reduced its footprint by 15% through energy saving measures managing their coffee roasting equipment. The following year the company cut its footprint by another 20%, in what Corbett says was “simple housekeeping”, through even better energy management and technology.
Today, Bewley’s continues to measure how much carbon the company is producing and every year purchases carbon offsets from certified carbon-reducing initiatives. In 2011, Bewley’s identified coffee growers selling carbon offsets and they decided to go direct to the source. Bewley’s linked up with the Cepicafe cooperative in Peru, who were planting trees around their coffee farms as part of a reforestation project. The trees were removing carbon dioxide from the air while also protecting the coffee crop growing further down the mountainside from soil erosion and landslides. “The beautiful thing about all this is that now we’re also buying their coffee,” says Corbett, “…so we’re sending them money for their offsets and sending them money for their coffee. The farm has two income streams and Bewley’s can rely on a quality coffee supply. It’s a very repeatable model that we’re fully engaged with.”
Bewley’s was also named one of the top 8 carbon leaders in the international Carbon Disclosure Project Report, 2011. Bewley’s is a market leading Fairtrade coffee supplier with 49% of the output from its plant being certified. Potential green coffee suppliers are vetted using a questionnaire based on the Ethical Trading Initiative base code of practice. Furthermore, it holds the Irish Organics Farmers & Growers Association (IOFGA) Organic Licence and Soil Association Organic Licence.
Origin Green Membership
This coherent embracing of sustainability in strategy and operations by Bewley’s made it an ideal candidate as an Origin Green member. Origin Green is a voluntary sustainability development programme by Bord Bia that demonstrates the commitment of the Irish food and drink industry to operating sustainably. At the heart of Origin Green is a sustainability charter, requiring participants to engage directly with the challenges of sustainability: reducing energy inputs, minimizing their overall carbon footprint and lessening their impact on the environment. It is the world’s first national sustainability standard aimed at building the credentials of the Irish food and drink sector as a worldwide sustainability leader.
Key Strategic Objectives
The company’s sustainability strategy is structured around its sourcing of raw materials, energy usage, emissions and social sustainability. The business strives to continue delivering increased customer value through offering sustainable products, and meeting consumer demands for transparency in relation to ethical and environmental credentials. This in turn translates into increased sales and business success.
Key strategic objectives include, growth of certified coffee supply from 49% to 70%, reduced energy consumption per tonne of product processed, a consequent reduction in carbon footprint, increased local community involvement through various CSR activities and employee engagement and training.
Central to the success of the sustainability plan is the organisational structure. A cross-functional, sustainability team designs and implements initiatives in line with the company’s strategic objectives. The team meets quarterly to review progress against targets and to discuss the implementation of initiatives. In addition to regular progress reports to the board of directors, updates on all areas of work and related targets are issued to all employees as part of the general business update.
Bewley’s sustainability plan sets out its ambitious goals in relation to energy usage, emissions and social sustainability over the five-year period between 2013 to 2017, using 2012 values as a baseline. Social sustainability will be strengthened by processing a higher percentage of certified coffee. Bewley’s is set to grow the percentage of certified coffee to 70% in 2017, by implementing a formalised sustainable procurement process. It is expected to move to totally certified sourcing as soon as possible after that. Ethical certification programmes like Fairtrade improve the social and economic livelihood of coffee producers in developing countries, something that Bewley’s believes is core to the future sustainability of the coffee industry.
Energy usage is one of the major areas impacting on the company’s carbon footprint. Despite having implemented an energy management system and significant capital investments in equipment upgrades, there is still further scope in relation to reducing both electrical and thermal energy usage. Over the next five years a detailed analysis and upgrade programme targeting the individual steps within the production line and the administration areas/offices will be carried out, significantly reducing energy consumption by 2017.
Commenting on how environmental targets will be achieved, Bewley’s Operations Director, Kathryn Costello, states, “reduction in emissions will be realised through increased energy efficiency, which will be further complemented by a programme of works looking at company fleet fuel consumption, reducing business travel, reduced packaging, and reviewing the logistics and distribution network”.
Every year thousands of people across the country take part in coffee mornings in homes and workplaces, raising much needed funds for local hospice care. Bewley’s provides all of the fresh ground coffee consumed during the event to make it easy for people to get involved. “The reaction to Ireland’s Biggest Coffee Morning over the years has been fantastic and it is now estimated that well over €30 million euro has been raised in the 20 year period that Bewley’s has been involved, that’s 15 million cups of Bewley’s coffee”, commented Carol Geary, Marketing Manager of Bewley’s. As part of their Origin Green Sustainability Strategy, Bewley’s has committed to continued sponsorship and support of the Irish Hospice Foundation through intensified marketing activities to promote the annual Ireland’s Biggest Coffee Morning fundraising event and setting targets to grow the volumes of coffee they donate every year until 2017. Bewley’s, staying true to their Quaker roots has also set the goal of increasing the number of internship and work experience opportunities it offers, as well as awarding third level scholarships.
Benefits of Origin Green Membership
Consumers and retailers are increasingly demanding more sustainable food and drink products. By becoming Origin Green members companies demonstrate to their key stakeholders that they are serious about becoming sustainability leaders and are willing to manage resources sustainably. It provides a platform for companies to align their strategies with an overarching Origin Green sustainability charter, to measure progress and to communicate in relation to their sustainability credentials. Origin Green is being marketed to trade customers to signal quality, sustainably produced food from Ireland, stimulating the sustainable development and growth of the Irish food and drink industry.