Keeping Costa alert

12th June 2013


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  • Food and drink ,
  • Certification ,
  • Management/saving



Costa were one of the first companies in the food industry to achieve ISO 50001 and it cut carbon emissions per tonne of coffee by 32% in the process. The resulting cut in costs meant that the firm was able to expand production without building a new site

Costa understands that to be an industry leader you have to stay ahead of the game. That’s why the firm approached NQA to help them meet energy targets and secure ISO 50001 certification.

While Costa Coffee’s motivation was to cut energy use the additional benefits of the process have been to expand production and increase output.

Energy management certification: The business benefits

While there is currently no legislation requiring companies to demonstrate their energy management processes, an increasing number of organisations choose to do so by going through a certification process – but why? Costa Coffee, the UK’s largest coffee chain and a division of Whitbread recently became NQA’s first client in the food industry to achieve certification to ISO 50001, the international standard for energy management systems.

Ben Brakes, Whitbread’s environment manager, wanted to focus on one of their most energy intensive sites: their coffee bean roastery based in Lambeth, south London, where energy reduction was crucial. Upon analysing their current operations, it became apparent that, due to the limited amount of electricity available to the site, expansion would only be possible if spare capacity could be created.

“We looked at every piece of equipment, how it was used and when it was used in the manufacturing process. We analysed everything, from the coffee bean roasters and packaging equipment down to the kettle in the staff room,” remembers Brakes. “It helped us to identify where we needed to better control our equipment and allowed us to see when our peak energy uses were.

“Examining how the site was being used gave us the chance to engrain energy saving in all of our working practices, including common, often overlooked behaviours (electric wall heaters are no longer left on if the windows are open, for example). We then focused on how equipment was used in the roasting process.”

As a result, some processes were changed, such as delaying the switching on of packaging equipment until coffee beans are roasted, instead of having it on from the start of the 12-hour operating period. Measures like this may seem simple with hindsight, but this could only be done after calculating that no manufacturing time would be lost as a result of switching on later.

Such measures, when coupled with more efficient equipment and behaviour change programmes, enabled the site to cut its energy use and reduce its carbon emissions per tonne of coffee by 32%. The savings have meant the firm has met its key target to generate enough spare capacity to install a second roaster.

Furthermore, Costa expect to see further cuts to energy in the future, as it continues to evaluate and tweak the site’s performance. Commenting on the impact of the energy saving, Brakes adds: “Reducing our energy consumption has enabled us to expand our production capability without having to build a new site.

“Going for certification undoubtedly gave us a platform to go to staff and say: ‘We are one of the first companies to go for this standard, we’re really proud of it and you should be too.’ It gives us something over and above the usual ‘switch it off’ campaigns and allowed us to really engage people with simple housekeeping issues that can make a lot of difference.”

“The Costa team are proud of meeting the standard. It has been well received in team briefings and internal communication in Whitbread.”

When it came to choosing which certification body to work with, Brakes explains, “From the start, we were very clear about what we wanted to achieve and NQA worked to support our aims and values. After long discussions we were confident that we could work together to achieve our objectives.”

“A few members of Whitbread staff were already aware of the certification process but often people can be afraid of the word ‘audit’, especially if they haven’t been through the process before. NQA made the overall process simple and its aim easy to understand for people on site who hadn’t any prior experience of auditing.”

Having seen the benefits of 50001 in Costa, Whitbread intend to roll out the standard to the company as a whole.

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