Two of the most significant coffee roasters in the Republic of Ireland are competing to become the most ecologically-conscious in the coffee industry.
Bewley's has told the Irish press that it will become the Ireland's first fully-certified carbon-neutral coffee company by the end of this year while its nearby rival, Java Republic, has said that it is currently moving into what it describes as ‘the first carbon-neutral roastery on the planet'.
Bewley's has now had the Irish minister for the environment visit its famous Grafton Street café to announce its carbon reduction initiatives, its move to renewable energy sources, and its support for ‘high quality certified carbon offset projects'.
The carbon-neutral status will apply to Bewley's coffee roasting, tea blending, foodservice and retail operations. The company says that it recently became the first and only coffee roaster in Ireland to attain the ISO 14001 environmental management standard, and that its current plans were developed after a review of its operations in 2006 by the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management. The development will see over 3,500 tonnes of CO2 removed from the atmosphere each year.
Síofra Campbell, chairman of the Bewley's group, commented: "We will be moving to a renewable energy provider, we are implementing a new heat recycling system, and in addition, a major recycling initiative is targeted at reducing waste and we are carrying out a feasibility study for organic waste composting from our Dublin roasting facility."
Bewley's will be Ireland's first carbon-neutral coffee firm to be certified by The Carbon Neutral Company, which works with many leading international firms including KPMG, Sky, SAS, EDF, Barclays, Avis and O2.
"We are involving every one of our employees and business partners in this agenda. We have already reduced energy usage and will be moving to a renewable energy provider. We are implementing a new heat recycling system," said the company.
"In addition, a major recycling initiative is targeted at reducing waste and we are carrying out a feasibility study for organic waste composting from our Dublin roasting facility."
Meanwhile, not far up the road, Java Republic is currently packing up its old 6,000 sq.ft site and moving to its new premises, a 26,000-sq-foot plant on a 2.2-acres site that will house not only its existing 60-kilo roaster, but a new 150-kilo model already named ‘Big Bertha'.
Java Republic will be going as paperless as possible, using a wood-pellet burner, recycling and re-using wherever possible, and offsetting its electricity usage.
Managing director David McKernan has said: "Ireland is facing a number of serious challenges including rising energy costs and our emissions obligations under the Kyoto protocol. These and other factors have given rise to a fundamental rethink in the way we design, construct and operate buildings.
"We believe that the day-to-day running of our business will better serve both us and the environment by building the world's first carbon neutral coffee roastery. Bringing this vision to reality will see the creation of a totally energy efficient roastery. The orientation of the building will maximise natural solar gains, the materials we will use will store heat naturally and release it slowly as the building cools down. We will use energy efficient cooling and lighting systems and electricity will be provided by a green provider.
"The array of solar panels on the roof will reflect our vision for sustainability and the installation of a biomass boiler fuelled by wood chips will ensure we are the world's first carbon neutral roastery."
By Ian Boughton