1. Driving sustainable coffee consumption
Coffee solutions form a core part of our business and we are passionate about delivering a great cup of coffee every time. With the production, distribution and consumption of coffee comes many opportunities to introduce more sustainable practices.
Our coffee bean suppliers are certified by the Rainforest Alliance, helping coffee farmers around the world to cultivate coffee beans in a way which minimises environmental impact and protects our most important, and most at risk, ecosystems. Many other consumables that we stock in our hot drinks machines are Fairtrade certified.
Connect Vending transitioned away from plastic cups to paper cups back in 2014, which has stopped hundreds of thousands of single-use plastic cups from going to landfill. Our paper alternatives are much more sustainable, but we are aware that they cannot be fully recycled as they contain a non-paper internal lining – from the end of 2022, we will be introducing dedicated paper cup recycling at our own premises, as well as offering a paper cup recycling service to all our clients.
We are also implementing coffee ground recycling on-site and to our clients, whereby waste grounds are collected for reprocessing at a purpose built facility. Here, they are turned into bio-logs that release 20% more heat energy than conventional logs, and burn for 18% longer. This process reduces CO2 emissions by 80% as they are not left to decompose in landfill.
2. Reducing our carbon emissions
We are working hard to reduce our carbon footprint by minimising both direct emissions from our fleet of Operator and Engineer vehicles, and indirect emissions from our warehouse and office energy supply.
Removing direct carbon emissions from our vehicle fleet is an important step in eliminating our emissions entirely, given the reliance of vending operators to have a fleet of vehicles for supply chain, maintenance and operation purposes.
Our journey to full fleet electrification is underway, with the first all-electric replacement for an ICE vehicle in our fleet since May 2022. Following complete electrification of our vehicle fleet, we estimate that our direct CO2 emissions will be reduced by more than 200 tonnes per annum.
Whilst the transition cannot be achieved overnight, we have taken the first steps and are actively planning for the replacement of ICE vehicles when they reach the end of their life. While we continue to operate ICE vehicles, we are regularly making efficiencies in our operating routes to reduce unnecessary mileage and therefore lower our carbon emissions.
Our energy supply is generated entirely from zero-carbon sources including wind and solar, and our own warehouse solar panels are helping us to minimise our energy demands on the National Grid. This has been aided by the installation of site-wide LED lighting, and the introduction of energy-saving employee initiatives which are reducing electricity consumption from lights, air conditioning units and working equipment, when not in use.
3. Reducing our resource consumption
We are committed to removing any non-essential printed paper, cardboard and plastic consumption across our business.
With the digitisation of processes and documentation we have substantially reduced the amount of paper and ink used on-site for the purposes of induction packs, internal documents and marketing collateral, whilst also reducing the energy consumed by printers throughout the building.
By the nature of our business, we see a large quantity of cardboard packaging enter our warehouse, either as packing for our clients’ new vending solutions, or boxing for food and drink items. For many years we have been bailing our cardboard waste for recycling off-site, ensuring that waste is not sent to landfill and turned into recycled cardboard products.
Though we do not consume large volumes of water at our premises, we have launched initiatives to ensure that our employees are aware of potential water waste in an effort to reduce consumption, where we can.
4. Working with sustainable suppliers
Our machine suppliers and consumables partners play a vital role in driving sustainability throughout the vending industry. Each of our suppliers hold ISO 14001 Environmental Management Certification , with goals set to reduce their own carbon footprint and improve product design fundamentals over the next five to ten years.
Machine manufacturers have brought many technological innovations to the vending industry over the last 15 years, which have delivered substantial improvements to machine energy efficiency. These manufacturers have also delivered refrigeration innovation, moving from HFC based refrigeration to climate-friendly natural refrigerant alternatives.
Our food and drink suppliers have also made big changes to their supply chain and packaging approaches, especially when it comes to removing single use plastics from packaging across their product ranges. In 2022, one of our fresh food suppliers, Simply Lunch, released new packaging for their sandwich range that contained no single use plastics, which will collectively remove more than 8 tonnes of plastic from their sandwich packaging every year.
At Connect Vending, we are always looking at ways to improve sustainability across our supply chain and are excited by future advances in sustainability across the industry.