FTA Coffee becomes first carbon neutral green bean company

FTA Coffee

FTA Coffee discusses becoming Australia’s first coffee importer to offer Climate Active certified carbon neutral green coffee beans. 

When FTA Coffee considered becoming a carbon neutral green bean company, it was Brazilian producer Henrique Sloper who inspired General Manager David McKennariey to take the leap by demonstrating the importance of sustainable farming practices.

“Henrique Sloper, the owner of Fazenda Camocim and former Brazilian Specialty Coffee Association President, uses biodynamic agriculture to grow coffee. He spoke to me about this process and the influence it had on neighbouring farmers, which triggered us to question how we could contribute to the work he was doing,” David says.

“After mentioning that he was carbon neutral, we first looked at shipping a single container of coffee from Henrique to roasters in Australia as carbon neutral coffee. Then one of the owners of FTA Coffee, Steve Ward, suggested instead to make our entire organisation at FTA Coffee carbon neutral.

“Having the support of the owners of the business really increased the scope of something which was initially quite limited and triggered by an individual producer.”

Andy Todd, FTA Coffee’s Quality and Sustainability Manager with post-graduate studies in sustainability, then helped map out FTA’s supply chain and carbon footprint.

Now officially certified by the Climate Active organisation, the green bean importer is committed to providing 100 per cent carbon neutral green coffee to the Australian market.

David says the company chose to join Climate Active to ensure its carbon neutral program was verified to the highest standard.

“The aim of FTA Coffee’s carbon neutral project is to mitigate the negative environmental impacts of the coffee value-chain while contributing to positive social outcomes for the producers that we source coffee from,” says David.

“In doing so, we will make a positive and impactful contribution on behalf of our customers.”

Climate Active is a partnership between the Australian Government and Australian businesses to drive voluntary climate action. The brand represents Australia’s collective effort to measure, reduce, and offset carbon emissions to lessen negative impacts on the environment.

David says FTA Coffee wants to encourage roasters who source their coffee through the company to also consider reducing their footprint by mentoring them in the development of their own carbon neutral programs or offsetting their emissions on their behalf.

“Our carbon neutral certification allows us to provide two different levels of carbon neutrality. The first is carbon neutral certification of product to the roaster’s door, whereby we provide carbon neutral coffee beans to our customers who then know that they are playing a part in reducing carbon emissions from the coffee value chain,” he says.

“This option to purchase carbon neutral green coffee from us is at no extra cost to the roaster. We’ve taken that cost on and are only looking to motivate customers to do more if they have the ability to.

“The second, is carbon neutral certification of product to the café door, whereby in addition to providing carbon neutral coffee beans to roasters, we then account for and offset all the roaster’s emissions within our certification, allowing the roaster to provide carbon neutral roasted coffee beans to their customers. In effect, we certify the roaster’s operations by proxy.”

David says the latter option is a great way for roasters to make an impact when they don’t have the resources required to go down the path of certification.

“FTA Coffee encourages both its customers and end consumers to become even more aware of the positive impacts they can make by deliberately choosing to purchase coffee that is environmentally friendly and ethically sourced, thereby making a positive contribution to the planet and to the people producing it,” he says.

“There is great appetite and motivation in the Australian coffee scene to be a positive contributor towards coffee sustainability, be it environmental, producer pricing or community impact.

“Being the first importer in Australia to achieve a net zero carbon footprint addresses one of those key pillars and no doubt will encourage other businesses in the industry to follow suit.”

Working with climate change advisory firm Ndevr Environmental, FTA Coffee Quality and Sustainability Manager Andy worked hard to identify, measure, and analyse the carbon footprint of its largest emissions source of ocean freight shipments, as well as the coffee it imports.

According to David, the funds raised through FTA Coffee’s purchase of carbon offsets will initially be directed to a range of projects. This includes the Cool Fire Project, a venture that manages preventative burn offs, which in turn reduces the risk of much bigger and more harmful bushfires. Another initiative includes Rainforest Rescue in Peru, a project supporting sustainable coffee and cocoa production.

Enterprise Improved Cookstoves in Malawi and Guatemala, which improves wood-burning stove efficiencies and indoor air quality, is another project FTA Coffee supports to offset emissions. As a result, the project promotes positive community health outcomes and lower carbon emissions.

David says the carbon neutral project is the first sustainable milestone for FTA Coffee in establishing a formal sustainability platform for the company. It is one David hopes will inspire all stakeholders, employees, suppliers, customers, shareholders, and the community to consider their own impact on the planet and act upon it, just as Brazilian producer Henrique has done.

Henrique says regenerative agriculture is the future of coffee, with a focus on carbon footprint, water usage and soil health.

“Working with a partner like FTA Coffee who understands and values these principles is key to ensuring the viability of future generations of producers, roasters and consumers of coffee,” he says.

David says the next and more challenging goal for FTA Coffee, is to actively work towards reducing its carbon footprint, as opposed to just offsetting it.

“This includes less travel, reducing heating and cooling consumption, contributing to programs at origin that help establish sustainable farming practices, transitioning away from gas roasters to electric, and sourcing green energy,” David says.

“As green coffee importers, we’re focused on developing sustainable supply chains and providing environmentally friendly and ethically sourced quality green coffee from around the globe.

“Every little thing we do to reduce our impact on the environment brings us closer to the holy grail, the great guilt-free cup of coffee.”

For more information, visit www.ftacoffee.com.au

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

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