DRINK SURPLUS

Rescued coffee at Swedish gas stations saves huge amount of resources

Löfbergs and Circle K representatives share more on their new partnership and what is done and what it takes to create better coffee and fuel industries respectively.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
October 06, 2021

Sweden is the second biggest coffee drinking country in the world, only beaten by Finland. The country’s coffee brands not only aim to please their picky customers but also actively reducing their emissions. This week, one of the leading ones, Löfbergs (already one of the world’s largest purchasers of organic and Fairtrade-labeled coffee), partners with convenience store and fuel chain Circle K, to give abandoned coffee a second life.

— We’ve created a tasty blend from beans that risked being wasted. In 2021, we have rescued 13 tons of coffee, which amongst others ensure a saving of about 60 tons of CO2, tells Anders Thorén, group communications manager, continuing,

— There are many reasons why coffee ends up next to the normal flow in our production and thus cannot be sold. Sometimes the barcode or packaging is damaged, sometimes the roasting or grinding level is not exactly as intended. Since the quality of the coffee is unchanged high, we wanted to find a partner who could help us take care of the coffee and give it an exciting new life.

— Our coffee experts have used different types of coffee and combined these into a unique and tasty blend, based on availability. This means that the same coffee can never be copied — each batch has a completely exclusive taste.

— For us, sustainability issues are constantly present, but to be able to realize all ideas, we depend on having partners like Circle K, who are willing and brave to test and develop new concepts with us. There is a lot of work and passion behind this coffee, and we are very pleased with the result.

Löfbergs takes coffee just as seriously as us, Erika Söderlund, communications manager at Circle K, states. We sell approximately 30,000 cups of coffee each day only in Sweden and when Löfbergs approached us with this idea, we welcomed it with open arms. We love to help our customers to make easy sustainable choices, and this coffee is a no-brainer — you simply choose a better option that at the same time is unique in flavor and helps minimize food waste. Do good by drinking good, so to speak. Except for the impact in pure numbers, it gives us a great chance to catch peoples’ attention around food waste and hopefully contribute to re-thinking our habits of wasting perfectly good food. It will be available all over Sweden.

Löfbergs’ saved coffee

How can the coffee industry address the sustainability issue onwards?

— World researchers agree that the climate situation is acute. The biological diversity is declining, our ecosystems are being disturbed and human activities are the cause. The earth’s resources are not infinite. At the same time, we see great social challenges of increasing polarization and growing inequality. We are determined to be at the forefront and contribute to a sustainable future. Our starting point is to minimize our negative impact and maximize ours positive. The perspective has always been to build for future generations, says Anders Thorén. He continues:

— Despite the boom in value downstream, coffee growers and estates continue to face an unprecedented cost-squeeze crisis that threatens global supply and threatens the livelihoods of small-scale farmers around the world. Reports suggest nearly 61% of producers sell their coffee at prices below the cost of production — leaving many farmers struggling to survive. As a result, the children of these farmers are unwilling to continue the trade, which puts coffee at a risk for labour shortage and jeopardises the world’s supply of coffee.

— So, we think it’s time to do something about this. It is time to change the value chain of coffee and improve the opportunities for growers. We’re the first coffee roastery to join The Era of We, the world’s first end-to-end coffee platform that aims to disrupt and modernise the coffee supply chain and shift the value of the coffee brand back to the growers and consumers. It’s focused on connecting the world’s largest coffee community to transform the economics of the supply chain for good — creating a movement driven by a community that cares deeply about where coffee comes from, the product quality, and the future of coffee to ensure it is sustainable, profitable and has longevity.

— Powered by technology and community, the platform will establish a digital global marketplace and social networking space that will promote direct relationships between coffee estates — farmers — facilitators, roasters, and consumers and improve traceability of the brew through a new open ecosystem. It will empower coffee growers, regardless of size, to build their own coffee brands and market directly to both roasters and consumers, thus creating a more efficient and equitable supply chain where farmers can set their own prices. It also serves as a platform for consumers who identify as coffee aficionados to discuss, learn, and experience coffee in a new way. People care more about their coffee than ever before, and those expectations continue to rise. Era of We builds that bridge for consumers and allows them to enjoy their coffee with the full knowledge of its characteristics and attributes. We see the coffee industry evolving in a manner parallel to that of the wine industry — where consumers seek out the coffee of specific estates for their characteristics, pedigree and process.

And Erika Söderlund, for the fuel industry, how will you and the industry work with sustainability onwards.

We like to challenge ourselves and sustainability is always present when forming our strategies, initiatives, and plans. That implies that we need to see and analyze our business from different angles; how can we continuously improve our product range to minimize the climate impact of our business, how do we secure diversity and inclusion amongst employees, and how do we make sure to be a contributing societal actor? 

— Let me exemplify with one of our core businesses: We are a retailer of fuel, meaning that we can provide a wide range of alternatives. We need to secure that all customers today have as good sustainable options as possible for their cars, while at the same time preparing for a shift in fuel towards more EV chargers and hydrogen — and we are well on our way. We are the leading supplier of renewable fuel on the market and every fourth liter sold is renewable. We are currently building Scandinavia’s first station with only EV and hydrogen for heavy traffic, which means we are heavily investing in the green conversion of heavy traffic. We are also building a large amount of EV chargers at our stations. By 2030, we will have 1,500 chargers and we focus exclusively on ultra-rapid chargers (300 kW) to make sure they can handle all kinds of cars in the future.

Anders Thorén, what’s next for you?

— We’re behind the ambitious initiative Circular Coffee Community with the clear-cut purpose of eliminating all waste related to coffee. The coffee industry, and the world as a whole, is in urgent need of circular transformation, and we have made a landmark decision to drive that transformation. By 2030, all waste related to the growing, processing, and consumption of coffee must be eliminated. The ambition is to include as many stakeholders as possible both in and outside the industry to pursue the ultimate goal of zero waste by 2030.

— Climate change and waste of resources are threatening not only our business but the entire global coffee value chain from farmers to consumers. We need to revolutionize the way we think about coffee and utilize all the nutritious and useful resources of the coffee plant.

— Where today we utilise less than 1 percent of the plant’s nutritional value when we harvest the berries and use the beans to brew coffee, we have set a goal that in 2030 we will use 100 percent. It makes good sense not only from an environmental and climate sustainability perspective but also from a social perspective because it helps to create new sources of income for the coffee farmers. We aim for a circular transformation beyond the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We have made circular transformation and the SDGs the pivotal point of our business strategy. Our focus now is to ensure that this strategic change pays off both commercially, socially, and environmentally.

And Erika Söderlund, what else do you have coming?

We have sponsored (children’s rights charity) Bris exclusively since 2013. Our employees chose our sponsorship partner back in the day, so for our upcoming campaign we asked them what kind of campaign they would like to do. They chose to focus on sausage, which also happens to be something we take real pride in! So, we have created a really tasty menu dedicated to Bris, with flavours that flirt with the North of Sweden, and for every menu sold, we’ll support Bris with 5 SEK (≈0,5 Euro).

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