The multinational has partnered with aluminium extraction firm Rio Tinto, which is the only firm of its kind to have been certified as sustainable by the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI), to sign a commitment ensuring that its capsule manufacturers only use certified suppliers.

To achieve ASI certification, suppliers must meet a set of requirements for biodiversity protection, respecting indigenous people’s rights, water stewardship and carbon emissions. Progress towards these requirements is tracked using a digital traceability mechanism, ensuring that end-user companies like Nespresso can access data at all levels of the supply chain.

Nespresso’s chief executive Jean-Marc Duvoisin said the company’s new commitment, which was announced on Monday (19 November), is a “positive step towards creating a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future”.

“Nespresso is proud to have been a driving force in creating and implementing the ASI,” Duvoisin said.

“Together, we have made responsibly sourced aluminium a reality, and the ASI traceability mechanism will enable us to meet our commitment to customers to reduce the impact of their consumption.”

The announcement of the new commitment comes after Nespresso co-founded the ASI with organisations including Rio Tinto and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2009. Since the launch of the scheme, the ASI has been incorporated as an international non-profit, enabling it to create and implement the world’s first certification program for aluminium.

The ASI’s chief executive Fiona Solomon praised Nespresso’s pledge as a “significant milestone in the journey towards seeing ASI standards adopted throughout the aluminium industry supply chain”.

The coffee capsule conundrum

Nespresso is widely renowned as a leader in the corporate drive for more sustainable coffee capsules, after launching the world’s first capsule recycling system in Switzerland in 1991. By 2015 the company had reached 86% global recycling capacity, through 14,000 capsule collection points.

These moves set the company up to partner with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea last year, in a move to provide a kerbside collection service for Nespresso Club members, who receive purple bags to place alongside other recycling bins.

However, progress from other coffee brands, local authorities and recycling service providers has been slower, with  95% of the pods on the market estimated to be made from a mixture of plastic and aluminium, making them hard to recycle.

In a bid to address the issue, Waitrose & Partners this year launched home-compostable coffee capsules across its own-brand ranges, enabling customers to compost them along with their used coffee grounds. 

Halo Coffee has since made similar moves, launching the world’s first paper-based home-compostable coffee pods earlier this year. These pods have been designed to decompose outside of industrial composting facilities. 

Nespresso at edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum

Nespresso’s chief executive Jean-Marc Duvoisin will appear at edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum to discuss the role of business in building peace, prosperity and economic development. 

The two-day event, taking place 5 & 6 February 2019 at the Building Design Centre, London, will also include debates on how to solve the plastics crisis and the state of corporate action on sustainable packaging. 

For more information and to register for the Forum, click here.

Sarah George

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