Coffee roaster Lincoln & York unveils SDG-aligned CSR strategy after staff vote

British coffee brand Lincoln & York has unveiled a sweeping new CSR strategy which aims to "deliver on as many of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as possible", beginning with the elimination of all single-use plastics by 2024.

Coffee roaster Lincoln & York unveils SDG-aligned CSR strategy after staff vote

95% of Lincoln & York's staff voted in favour of the new strategy. Image: Lincoln & York

Under the strategy, the roaster, which produces 1.5 million cups of coffee annually, has promised to remove all single-use plastics from its products and supply chains and to ensure that 10% of its workforce are local apprentices by 2024.

The latter of these commitments comes under the “local community” pillar of the strategy, which additionally commits Lincoln & York to delivering 100 “charity days” a year, during which staff volunteer for good causes in the North East.

The strategy’s other two pillars are “environment” and “coffee community”. The plastics phase-out falls under the former, as does switching to 100% renewable energy, making all packaging recyclable and delivering annual year-on-year energy consumption reductions.

As for the “coffee community” aspect of the strategy, this pillar includes measures to develop “close-knit relationships” with farmers and other contacts in communities where coffee used by Lincoln & York originates. Among these is a pledge to pay a £100 “hospitality fee” to each person for every farm visited. Lincoln & York states that it is already paying a fair price for coffee and investing in schemes which champion gender equality, reduce hunger and provide access to education.

In order to develop the CSR strategy, Lincoln & York put its contents up for a vote among the entirety of its employee workforce. In that vote, 95% of staff gave their approval.

This approach echoes that taken by Unilever, which asked its 172,000 staff what sustainable business meant to them as it designed its post-2020 environmental goals.

“It is important that our strategy is reflective of our company values, so I’m extremely pleased that the overwhelming number of our workforce support our direction,” Lincoln & York’s managing director James Sweeting said.

“We’re on a mission to help Britain drink better coffee. For us, this means covering all aspects of the coffee industry, from sourcing beans, to providing jobs in our factories for local apprentices. As we continue to expand across Europe, we hope to attract more customers who share our passion for creating sustainable products of the highest quality.”     

Wake up and smell the coffee

Over the past four decades, coffee has become one of the most popular drinks in Europe and the US, with around three in ten UK residents and four in ten US citizens drinking at least one cup each day. Overall, global coffee consumption is estimated to have doubled since 1980.

This growing demand has repeatedly been linked to decisions being made at the expense of the environment in order to maximise yields and profits. Indeed, 2.5 million acres of forest are estimated have been cleared to make way for coffee farms in Central

The growing demand for coffee has also proven a challenge to efforts to promote social and financial equality in developing nations. The average coffee farmer earns just £1.37 each day, according to Fairtrade, meaning they take home just 10% of the retail price of their commodities.

Sarah George

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