TORONTO, 13 Sept 2016 /CNW/ – Have you ever read a company’s sustainability information and tried to pin down exactly what they’re talking about? The effect is called “greenwashing”. According to the David Suzuki Foundation, a consumer product report done by TerraChoice revealed that 98% of products claiming environmental benefits were committing the “crime of vagueness”.
In the corporate world, green-washing is just as common, and just as misleading. The coffee service industry is a notorious offender, selling controversial products with dubious production backgrounds and waste management solutions. Statements like “Single-Serve products reduce beverage waste” or “Purchased from responsible farms,” leave enough room for interpretation to give the appearance of responsible practices.
However, there are changes on the horizon. Office Coffee Solutions (B2B and retail coffee supplier) and Mindful Snacks (B2B provider of healthy office snacks) are a partnership that avoid shades of green and sticks to concrete facts. Their latest venture is committing to Bullfrog Power’s green fuel for their entire delivery fleet. Bullfrog Power ensures that renewable fuel is injected into the Canadian fuel system to match the amount of conventional fuel that Office Coffee Solutions’ delivery fleet uses, litre-for-litre. Bullfrog Power’s green fuel is an earth-friendly, renewable alternative to fossil fuel, enabling climate-conscious businesses in Canada to reduce the environmental impact of their transportation.
It’s a clear step forward in the endeavour to cut back on fossil fuels. The B2B delivery world of course comes with inherent environmental challenges due to their business model. Adopting a green fuel initiative is one of the most prominent ways of decreasing the footprint left by delivery services. But the coffee world is a fairly insular place, when one company adopts a practice, it’s bound to be mimicked by their main competitors. It poses a frustrating marketing model, since this replication of initiatives causes a loss of unique selling points. Office Coffee Solutions’ CEO Claudio David embraces, even encourages, this behaviour from his colleagues in the industry:
“I did not start this business with a goal to grow it to a certain size and this continues not to be my primary goal. My real focus is to bring higher standards to the industry; be it service, products, or sustainability. It’s all about raising the bar, pushing ourselves to always do better and surprising our clients with what we offer and how we offer it.”
So the bar has been raised. Going beyond this, Jessica Pelchat, the Chief Sustainability Officer at Office Coffee Solutions, talks about another recent alliance: “In conjunction with our Bullfrog green fuel initiative, we are now working together with Partners in Project Green to review further optimization of our commercial fleet. From a holistic standpoint, I would encourage all businesses to demand a high level of social responsibility from their providers. It’s through tangible, actionable initiatives like these that we effect change.”
Whether it’s through an identical initiative to the teams at Office Coffee Solutions & Mindful Snacks, or a comparable one, the only way for the industry to improve is by one or two companies to encourage change through competition, based on concrete information rather than shades of green.