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Green Mountain Coffee Taps SustainAbility for CSR Program

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. and corporate sustainability consultancy SustainAbility are to collaborate on the further development of the coffee company’s corporate social responsibility program.

The partnership includes a review and analysis of Green Mountain’s material sustainability opportunities, which will be informed by external stakeholder feedback and benchmarking, Green Mountain says. Green Mountain hopes that the work will ensure a sharpened and continued focus on those areas and initiatives that can deliver the greatest value to all stakeholders, and where the company can have the greatest societal and business impact.

In December 2011, Green Mountain announced that it was working with University of North Dakota researchers and bioenergy specialist Wynntryst LLC on a project aimed at using the waste from its coffee processing plant to produce energy. The university’s Energy & Environmental Research Center and the two Vermont-based companies said they would develop a gasification power system fueled by coffee residues, plastic packaging, paper, cloth, burlap and Keurig single-serve plastic cups.

In fiscal year 2011 the company expanded, to 22 states, its program for recovering brewed K-Cup packs from offices. These were directed to composting as well as energy-from-waste. Green Mountain says it processed and recycled 1,106 tons of material from returned Keurig brewers in the US in FY 2011. That year it reduced energy use by 16 percent at its Knoxville, Tenn., and 26 percent at its Sumner, Wash., facilities, surpassing goals of 10 percent at each. 

Green Mountain Coffee also joined in a partnership with Fair Trade USA and the US Agency for International Development to promote environmental education among Brazil’s coffee growers.

In February 2011, SustainAbility released a report that found that most sustainability ratings fall short on transparency and lack sufficient quality controls. The research also found that ratings systems are frequently too general in their stated goals and too complex in terms of their criteria and scoring. SustainAbility said that too often, raters do not sufficiently explain their methodologies, treating those methods like a “secret sauce.”

The consultant released a poll in April 2011 of companies most committed to sustainability. Unilever was chosen by 15 percent of respondents and topped the ranking, which was produced in conjunction with researchers GlobeScan. The household goods brand was followed by General Electric (12 percent), flooring company Interface (12 percent), Walmart (11 percent) and UK retail chain Marks & Spencer (8 percent).

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