Coffee and Sustainability

Coffee and Sustainability
gerson cifuentes 561957 unsplash

The British Coffee Association (BCA) recognises and supports the importance of minimizing the environmental impact of coffee; from sustainable growing, reducing waste during the roasting and manufacturing process, to minimizing the carbon footprint during distribution and improving infrastructure around coffee cup and single-serve pod recycling.

Click here to learn more about our sustainability mission

Environmental sustainability is a primary focus for us and progress to support and address it is being embedded across the industry and supply chain. Our members across the whole industry are innovating both in technology throughout the manufacturing process and their products and materials. This includes significant innovations around biodegradable materials, new recycling processes and waste management.

We encourage all our members to take innovation in the environmental and sustainability arena seriously. We continue to provide support and counsel to help educate, inform and encourage our members from across the industry to ensure we are working together to reduce environmental impacts, improve recyclability, and comply with the requirements of the EU Packaging Waste Directive.

iStock 514164194
Bean to Bin and Beyond

As part of our sustainability work, a report, Bean to Bin and Beyond, was commissioned to increase an understanding of how the UK coffee industry is supporting and driving a circular economy throughout the supply chain.

These are the BCA industry goals for a sustainable circular coffee economy:


  • Zero-waste packaging by 2025 – aim to switch to 100% recyclable or re-usable packaging across all products within the next seven years with 0% of waste going to landfill.
  • Support the BCA in encouraging the UK government to expand investment in recycling and waste management infrastructure, including investment in composting facilities and the improvement of waste collection infrastructure across Local Authorities and individual household.
  • Responsible sourcing of all packaging materials - including plastic, paper, cardboard, and aluminium through enhanced supply chain transparency, traceability and investment in technologies that reduce waste to landfill.
  • UK coffee companies to conduct lifecycle assessments (LCA’s) across their supply chains to identify opportunities to create efficiencies, minimise waste and potential to improve circularity.
  • Evidenced industry commitment to creating initiatives that help consumers understand how and where to recycle used coffee products and materials – including education through best practice examples and recommendations.
  • This can be supported by improved transparency in labelling and on-pack recycling information as well as the creation of digital technology such as recycling apps and other tools that will help educate as well as inspire consumers to change their behaviour around the use, re-use and recycling of materials in their daily coffee products.
  • Optimal transportation routes to be viewed and reviewed by all UK coffee companies with sharing of best practice - across supply chains both within the UK and globally, companies should look to minimise carbon usage through transportation and drive adoption of green technology through their transportation networks.
  • Encouraging the adoption of the circular economy principles in the production and processing stages at origin – this represents a way of supporting coffee producers’ efforts to adapt to and mitigate the negative impacts of climate change while helping to reduce the environmental impact of coffee farming.
Take a look at the full report

The Sustainable Coffee Challenge

The BCA is a member of the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, a collaborative effort of companies, governments, NGOs, research institutions and others to transition the coffee sector to be fully sustainable. The aim of the challenge is to increase transparency, align around a common vision for sustainability and collaborate to accelerate progress toward those goals.



The Global Coffee Platform (GCP)

The BCA is also a member of the Global Coffee Platform which has been established to support the coffee sector to accelerate its sustainability journey. The GCP provides country platforms to help tackle local priorities as well as support in tackling the big issues through collective action networks and bespoke GCP tools. Being part of the GCP brings local insights for the BCA and our Sustainability Committee to support and work towards. 

Our Network