IUCN and Nespresso to sign landmark agreement to make aluminium greener

IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and Nestlé Nespresso S.A., the world’s leading provider of single-portioned highest-quality premium coffee, are to sign an agreement to make aluminium more sustainable.

Coffee beans

The AluCycle™ Initiative will look at the entire lifecycle of the aluminium used in Nespresso capsules, from bauxite mining and the protection of biodiversity through to post consumer recycling of capsules.

Aluminium and coffee?

Aluminium has been identified by Nespresso as one of three central pieces of their sustainability strategy (the others being coffee and coffee machines) due to the use of aluminium in the capsules.

Though very small in relation to global aluminium consumption, it represents a very visible part of the Nespresso footprint to Nespresso consumers. As Nespresso capsules are one of the few “super-premium” products packaged directly in aluminium, the company is also a very visible and important user for the wider aluminium sector.

The agreement

The initial agreement between IUCN and Nespresso concerns a stakeholder engagement process in the coming months that will bring together people and organizations from across the aluminium lifecycle.

This will be centered on the first AluCycle™ Forum in late June at IUCN that will look at sustainability issues, opinions and solutions across all stages of the aluminium chain. This first Forum will help map out a plan of action for Nespresso over the coming years, with key partners such as IUCN, to make its use of aluminium more sustainable.

And, as with almost all of IUCN’s business partnerships, the intention is also to ultimately influence change in the wider aluminium sector, from bauxite mining companies, to industrial and consumer users of aluminium products, to how this metal is recycled and re-used.

Specific objectives of the first AluCycle™ Forum include:

  • Refining the Nespresso-led AluCycle™ initiative as an umbrella programme to bring together a range of initiatives by key business partners and stakeholders related to the improvement of the sustainability performance of Nespresso’s aluminum capsules;
  • Sharing best practices and generating new ideas for achieving sustainability in the aluminum lifecycle (mining and extraction, processing and refining, retrieval and recycling/upcycling);
  • Scoping out the elements of a multi-year programme of work on sustainable aluminum lifecycles involving business partners, civil society and governments; and
  • Exploring opportunities for leveraging change throughout the aluminum industry by creating demand for sustainable aluminum directly through Nespresso as well as indirectly through awareness raising among Nespresso’s customer base.

Nespresso: leadership role in sustainable coffee

The AluCycle™ initiative is part of a broader sustainability partnership being launched by Nespresso that will include coffee and coffee machines.

With coffee in particular, Nespresso has been an industry leader over the past five years in making its coffee more sustainable through its Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program, run in conjunction with leading NGO the Rainforest Alliance. This has led to great improvements in environmental and social sustainability in areas where Nespresso sources coffee.

Moreover it has led to improvements in the wider coffee sector as other companies and competitors have followed Nespresso’s lead.

IUCN: protection and sustainable use of biodiversity

The partnership with Nespresso presents IUCN with an opportunity to build its knowledge and networks for managing biodiversity impacts of the mining and metals sector and, in return, to expand IUCN’s influence to other parts of the metals supply chain and profile its work on mining and biodiversity with the public.

The proposition for IUCN going into this relationship is that, by working with a small yet strategic and highly visible buyer in the aluminium supply chain, IUCN will be able to demonstrate the importance and value to upstream mining companies of implementing sustainability standards such as those we have developed with the International Council on Mining and Metals.

In addition, the initiative will help encourage and support Nespresso, and ultimately other packaged food and beverage companies, to improve recycling standards and practices.

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