Coffee Chains address sustainability

Different international coffee-shop chains are taking significant steps in moving their business toward sustainability. Although going green or doing ethical business is not new, uncertain economic conditions have made companies realise that addressing sustainable business practices can be a means of gaining competitive advantage.

At the end of 2010, Starbucks launched a green initiative, which is the switching of 7,000 of its stores to LED (Light-emitting diode) lighting sources, with benefits such as lower energy consumption and longer lifetimes.

Beside this, Starbuck’s started to redesign several stores located in different ‘bio-regions’, with branches in Kyoto, Lisbon, Toronto, and Seattle, using reclaimed building materials on the store’s wooden floors and countertops.

McDonald’s McCafé has also invested in ‘going green’. The coffee beans used by McCafé are exclusively from farms that have the Rainforest Alliance stamp, which means that the beans were produced in compliance with guidelines for environmental, wildlife, worker, and local community protection, including the development of sustainable livelihoods in land-use practice transformation and other business practices.

And McDonald’s has already installed 294 photovoltaic solar panels at a branch in the US as a test for its LEED initiative. In addition, the branch has other green features, including native drought-tolerant plants, low plumbing fixtures, and recycled denim insulation inside the building. And it is just a matter of time, before McCafé will follow its mother’s footsteps.

Earlier this year, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf developed a plan to market and launch the new Sustainability Tracking and Reporting Tool for the industry — a tool to measure a company’s impact and track progress toward more sustainable business practices.

Consumers worldwide are taking notice of how they can reduce their impact on the environment. Besides, they are becoming more interested in knowing where their products are coming from and how fairly traded the products are. Thus, companies that can prove a return on investment to customers are the ones benefiting from the adoption of sustainable measures.

Who will set up the next sustainable initiative?