Nomad Coffee Group discusses becoming certified carbon neutral

Nomad Coffee Group

Nomad Coffee Group talks with BeanScene about its commitment to sustainable coffee roasting and why it’s determined to become Australia’s most sustainable coffee company.

As part of its ongoing commitment to the sustainable future in the coffee industry, Nomad Coffee Group, the parent company of Veneziano Coffee Roasters, has officially been certified as carbon neutral by government-backed initiative Climate Active.

Nomad Coffee Group CEO Craig Dickson says it’s a significant achievement for the business and one it’s extremely proud of.

“This certification allows us to make a statement to the industry and to our customer base that sustainability is incredibly important to us,” says Craig.

“It’s vital that we do our part and step up as an industry leader in Australia, to show that not only is it possible for larger businesses such as ours to obtain carbon neutrality, but that it’s affordable and accessible for all.”

Climate Active certification is Australia’s most recognised carbon neutral certification. It is a partnership between the Australian Government and Australian businesses to drive voluntary climate action. It requires organisations to comply with the rigorous Carbon Active Carbon Neutral Standard administered by the Australian government.

After the creation of an internal sustainability committee in 2020 to bring together ideas from all departments, Veneziano Coffee Roaster’s identified climate change as one of the key concerns and areas to address.

With a long list of things the company wanted to achieve, it became apparent a dedicated resource was needed to design and manage the sustainability strategy. This led to the appointment of the company’s first Sustainability Manager in Nick Percy.

“My job involves overseeing our Corporate Social Responsibility program, specifically the environmental and social elements. This includes assessing our carbon footprint, and liaising with our supply chain partners, to strategise the most effective changes we could make to do business in a more sustainable way” says Nick.

“I’m always evaluating new policies and procedures we can implement to ensure all activities in the workplace incorporate the most environmentally-friendly options. We were amazed at how some of the changes we’ve made were no-brainers: simple, fast and painless quick wins.”

The first priority was to calculate carbon emissions to understand what impact the business had on climate change. As such, Nomad Coffee Group engaged the team at Ndevr, a climate change human rights advisory firm, to help measure and understand the company’s carbon footprint.

Using 2020 as a base year, the company was able to identify where its largest emission sources were and where the biggest opportunities for change lay.

“We identified that our largest emission source was inbound and outbound third-party warehouse freights. The second largest emission source was natural gas, which is a huge component, but there’s not yet a viable alternative for natural gas in the roasting industry,” says Nick.

To combat these emission sources, Nick says the company implemented several sustainable initiatives.

“We tackled two key areas, electricity, and waste. We shifted our facilities to 100 per cent GreenPower, which sources renewable energy to the equivalent quantity on the company’s behalf. This allowed us to remove around 500 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions with one decision,” he says.

Next, Nick tackled long-term waste reduction strategies, such as diverting 75 per cent of Nomad Coffee Group’s waste from landfill to recycling programs.

“We did a dumpster dive to identify what waste we could remove from our operations. We recognised plenty of organic matter that we could divert to organic bins, as well as soft plastics and other specific recyclables such as the strapping on green coffee bulk bags. In doing so, we effectively doubled our diversion rate. Working towards a target of 75 per cent diversion from landfill, we’re sitting at about 60 per cent at the moment,” he says.

“We are continuing to explore options for the problem of single use takeaway cups and support many businesses looking for better solutions. This includes a current trial with Good Edi edible coffee cups, partnerships with Noa and Parker, a reusable container manufacturer, to produce reusable cups and implement a return a cup system, and with Closed Loop to give our café customers options for recycling single use coffee cups.”

To achieve net zero, the remaining emissions of 3171 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent have now been offset through investment in a renewable energy project in India, called Winds of Change. This project supports the power needs of one of the world’s fastest developing countries and a country of origin supplying beans to Nomad Coffee Group.

“India is a country that we’ve been working with for many years. From a coffee sourcing point of view, it’s one of the top 10 emission sources in the world. This presented a really great opportunity for us to invest in those carbon offset programs to balance what we do here in Australia,” says Nick.

Looking to the future, Nick says Nomad Coffee Group is only at the start of its corporate social responsibility journey, with a long way to go.

“We have a number of projects we’re working on, such as our Reconciliation Action Plan, which involves working with local Indigenous communities to help businesses such as ours better understand Indigenous culture, how we can support them and make decisions with them in mind,” he says.

“We’re also doing a deep dive into coffee supply chain modern slavery risks. Certainly, over the last two years with COVID-19 lockdowns and the corresponding inability to visit producers, there is a higher risk of exploitation occurring throughout the supply chain. We want to acknowledge that we’re aware of that and are working closely with our supply chain partners to ensure that those most at risk are offered the same levels of protection as we all deserve.”

Nomad Coffee Group is also building a new facility in Truganina, Victoria, for its private label roasting business, Black Bag Roasters. In line with the Nomad sustainability goals, company CEO Craig Dickson has given Nick the responsibility to ensure it is the greenest large-scale coffee roasting facility in Australia.

“This includes installing the most energy efficient packing equipment on the market, world class pollution reduction systems, use of renewable electricity, and more. For example, right now, I’m looking at double-glazed tinted windows, solar panels on the roof, and water tanks. Full consideration of employee wellbeing is factored into the build to make it a great place to work and will include employee health and well-being checks.  Staff amenities will include a free-to-use electric charging station for employee cars, bikes and scooters,” Nick says.

He adds that the company’s main sustainability goal for the year was to become carbon neutral, and it achieved this status in March 2022.

“This is a feat we are extremely proud of, but we also know that our work is not done yet, and we will continue to make positive changes in our business to reduce our overall carbon footprint and reduce our reliance on carbon offsetting,” says Nick.

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This article appears in the June 2022 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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