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3fe Coffee Ltd.- Company wide project engaging with the Circular Economy

Case Study on engaging with the Circular Economy

Business Type: SME; Coffee roaster and cafés
Location: Dublin
No. of Employees: 50

Overview of CSR Initiative
We have a company-wide project engaging in the circular economy, whether through inventive solutions to food waste at the cafes, or finding new uses for industrial waste at the roastery.
Project team: Operations, Roastery, Kitchen & Café management.
Resources required: Time, storage space, online resources such as Smile Exchange.
Challenges: Industrial waste challenges: finding consistent avenues for waste streams. Food waste challenges: managing the compost, developing the culture amongst staff.
Benefits: Money saved, waste diverted from landfill, partnerships with other businesses and organisations outside regular business transactions.
Outcome: Food waste reduced from 8kg per day to 2-3kg at flagship location, and we’re set to divert almost 2 tonnes of waste from the roastery to other businesses and organisations.
How was/is this initiative promoted? e.g. Annual Report, Linkedin etc.Primarily on social media & blogposts.
Do you report on CSR in the Annual Report? Annual Sustainability Report planned.

CSR Dimension
'Towards Responsible Business’ Ireland’s National Plan on CSR 2017-2020 identifies 4 core dimensions of CSR – Environment, Community, Workplace and Marketplace.

· Environment - minimising negative environmental impacts
· Community - interaction with your local community partners and organisations
· Workplace - supporting and engaging with your employees
· Marketplace - interaction with your local community partners and organisations.

Please select the dimension(s) that you apply to your CSR Initiative and why?
Environment: Reducing waste, particularly diverting from landfill, and increasing the useful life of each item, whether veg peelings, jute sacks or coffee grounds.

Community: Fostering relationships with organisations such as Smile Exchange, Recreate Ireland, various other local businesses/community gardens. Crucially, not partnerships that we would have formed in the day-to-day business activities.

Workplace: Many staff enjoyed finding solutions to these issues, for example our trainer Eithne was delighted to meet someone during a class that reared chickens and could use the chaff from the roasting process as bedding. The inventive food waste solutions are great for morale in kitchen, and foster creativity.

Business Impact
How has the CSR initiative benefitted your business and demonstrated a win:win in the short-term and/or long-term?

Short-term benefits: On top of the environmental impact, there are numerous financial benefits. We have saved a considerable amount on bin charges (final amounts not calculated across all locations). Additional margins from profit gained through re-use of food waste (in head chef Holly’s words: “Every brownie corner is turned into a cake truffle, every broken flapjack becomes granola. Chicken bones from our chicken for sandwiches become stock, vegetable skins are washed and turned into puree’s. Banana skins are frozen, blitzed and put into banana bread. Even mushroom stalks are dehydrated and used to make “umami powder”, a welcome seasoning on practically everything. Excess bacon fat is used to make smoked bacon almonds. Everything has a use and nothing goes to waste”.

Long-term benefits: It has contributed to changing the broader culture within the company towards sustainability. We have found that it kick-started other projects; once you start scratching the surface, other issues and potential solutions appear. We also have plans to extend this project further, and develop more products from waste streams, rather than just saving money.

Finally there are short-term and long-term marketing benefits; from promoting this individual initiative in the short-term, and at a broader level increasing awareness of the business as a sustainability-driven company.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Please identify which SDG goal(s) apply to your CSR initiative.

Goal 2: Zero Hunger
Goal 9: Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure
Goal 12: Responsible Production & Consumption
Goal 15: Life on Land
Goal 17: Partnership for the Goals

What did you learn from your experience of creating and implementing a CSR initiative?
Can be difficult and messy to begin with – it took a long time to find regular homes for waste items at the roastery such as the jute sacks or coffee chaff, which led to a lot of stockpiling. In the kitchen, many ideas that seemed good on paper, didn’t work out in practice. For example, the idea to use the excess milk after steaming for cappuccinos to make ricotta. It worked well during the winter when it was cold, but in the summer the process of collection wasn’t feasible or safe, and had to be shelved for the time being.

What advice would you give a business starting on their CSR Journey?
Start small! Small, exciting and achievable projects help create a culture, get staff engaged, and will snowball into more ambitious projects and a broader framework for sustainability

Download a copy of this case study as a pdf.

Case Study was provided by 3fe Coffee Ltd.

November 2018


3fe Circular Economy 1    3fe Circular Economy 2

Case Study published in 2018